Wednesday, the 15th of May! Shelf Control time again! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles. To take part, simply pick a book from your TBR and write a post about it–what made you pick it up, why you are excited to read it and such. Link back to Lisa’s page of course, and do leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to look at your picks!

This week, I’m continuing with featuring recent publications in these posts as my theme for this month is 2018 reads. [I don’t have that may 2018 books pending as of now so have broadened the range for Shelf Control.] The book I picked this week is The Great Passage by Shion Miura. The book was first published in Japanese in 2011, while its translation by Juliet Winters Carpenter was published in 2017.

What it’s all about: Described as ‘[a] charmingly warm and hopeful story of love, friendship, and the power of human connection’. Kohei Araki has been inspired from a young age by the various meanings that words carry, and finds a kindred spirit in Mitsuya Majime, who collects antiquarian books and has a background in linguistics. When Majime finds himself tasked with completing The Great Passage, a 2900-page tome on the Japanese language, on his journey he finds friendship, romance, dedication to his work, and inspiration from something that binds us all–words.

I got this book on Kindle as part of Amazon’s World Book Day offers.

This sounds like a really interesting read, focused around themes that I love–books and words. The description of Araki’s character reminds me very much of a character I ‘met’ in another Japanese work recently, Tomura in The Forest of Wool and Steel (review here), who is so deeply affected by the sounds of a piano being tuned in his school, that he takes up tuning as a career. This book, which is also about the making of a dictionary, also has shades of another read I very much enjoyed, The Surgeon of Crowthorne. This seems to be a book that I’m quite sure I will enjoy reading, and certainly one that give me plenty of food for thought as well.

The Author and Translator: Shion Miura, the daughter of a classics-scholar, who loved reading from a young age, published her first novel in 2000, the year after graduating. She has written several novels and short stories, and won the Naoki prize in 2006 for her linked short-story collection, The Handymen in Mahoro Town, and the Booksellers Award in 2012 for The Great Passage.

Juliet Winters Carpenter is an American translator of Japanese literature and has translated several novels, short story and poetry collections. She has won the Japanese-US Friendship Commission prize for her translations of Abe Kobo’s Secret Rendezvous, and Minae Mizumara’s A True Novel, besides other awards.

Have you read The Great Passage or do you plan to? What did you think of it if you have? What are some of your favourite books about books or words? Looking forward to reading your thoughts!

All the info about the book and Shion Miura is from Goodreads (here and here) and about Juliet Winters Carpenter from Wikipedia (here).

6 thoughts on “Shelf Control #44: The Great Passage by Shion Miura

  1. I too have this book on my TBR. All the 9 translated books during that offer seemed interesting. I hope to read this book in the last quarter of this year and if you read it before me, I would love to know your opinion about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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