A voice from Japan

Edward Lipsett at Kurodahan Press on foreign authors being published in English:

Does anyone really know or care what the original language of a work was? There are actually quite a number of works translated from other languages into English, and in many cases (especially in the US) it doesn’t actually say anywhere whether it was translated or not. The translator’s name may be listed once inside, in small print, or not at all. As someone who has made a living out of translation for over 25 years, this is rather distressing, to say the least…


The problem persists, of course. Many American publishers (and possibly others; I mention American because that’s what I’m familiar with) believe that the buying public will be put off by books translated from other languages, and hide the translator’s name on the copyright page in the fine print. Kawabata Yasunari won the Nobel Prize in Literature, but I’m confident that a lot of the glory was earned by his translator, and if you don’t know who that was perhaps you’re reading the wrong blog.

I think the situation is changing slowly, though. Every so often an author comes along who combines excellent writing with an in-the-footlights homeland. One example is Zoran Zivkovic of Serbia. I happened to pick up a copy of his Seven Touches of Music, translated by Alice Copple-Tosic, and absolutely fell in love. The man is a genius, and apparently I am not the only one to notice, because a variety of his material is being published here and there in English. I was intrigued to note that the English translation mentions, for example “Mrs. Martha,” and wonder if Martha is her first name, last name, a name made up by the translator, or what… In Japan I am commonly called “Edward-san,” apparently because foreigners in Japan are always named in that fashion without regard for surnames or the fact that it seems to violate Japanese custom. Does the same custom exist in Serbia?

Link to the full entry.

Two Reviews of Seven Touches of Music

In Issue 6 (Summer 2007) of The Pacific Rim Review of Books, Bernard Gastel reviews Seven Touches of Music:

The central conceit seems to be that God is a violinist, a composer whose composition is suggestive of the entire world in its historical and future complexity. Characters are given glimpses of alternate or apparently lost parts of that composition, but, just as music described is no longer music, they do not have the means to share that glimpse with anyone else. Their impossible experiences would be considered signs of instability and nothing more. In the first story a teacher of autistic children finds that instead of filling a sheet of paper with nothing but the letter ‘O’ as he normally does, one of his students – apparently under the influence of music – writes a series of numbers. This series, it turns out, is a physical constant, one of the “fundamental values of nature.” There is nothing the teacher can do with this information, because there is no recurrance of this anomaly. All the characters in the book are confronted with a moment of divine clarity, and their choice, when possible, is invariably to return to the comfort or banality of everyday things.

In Seven Touches of Music ultimate truths have an ambiguous existence. It is exactly where those truths are revealed that loss is felt most profoundly. A short, beautiful book, it shows a world where the ideal, where it exists at all, is found in the world’s shadows as well as in its light.

And a very nice reader review on the Amazon.co.uk page for the book, by Mr. RB Fortune-Wood “Rowan”:

Nietzsche once claimed “Without music, life would be an error.” The nihilistic Romanian thinker Emil Cioran, heavily influenced by Nietzsche, said on God, “without Bach, God would be a complete second rate figure.” I cannot think of anything better than these two aphorisms to convey the impression the Serbian writer Zoran Zivkovic’s Seven Touches of Music made on me. Each narrative compliments the others forming a beautiful mosaic novel fittingly contained in an exquisite black cover. Seven Touches of Music is reminiscent of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story “The Music of Erich Zann,” which possesses a similar inexplicable pull.

Blogcritics Magazine on Steps and Seven Touches

Richard Marcus at Blogcritics Magazine has posted some insightful reviews of my two books from Aio Publishing.

On Steps Through the Mist:

Like all of Zivkovic’s stories, Steps Through The Mist will leave you scratching your head about the nature of dreams, and what effect we may or may not have on our fates. Does it really matter whether we make a concentrated effort to change our futures, or will what comes about comes about no matter what? Reality is not as far removed from the world of our dreams as we like to think, and the future is always waiting for us no matter what we do.

Link to the full review.

On Seven Touches of Music:

For a novel like Seven Touches Of Music to work we have to believe in the characters and their circumstances sufficiently that the impact the music has on their lives becomes as significant to us as it does to them. Zivkovic has not only made his characters utterly convincing, but his depiction of their lives, and the environment they live in, are detailed in such a manner that we can feel the shock to their systems when they are given their brief glimpses into the unknown.

Link to the full review.

Seven Touches of Music Wins Design Award

I am honored to announce that the Aio Publishing hardcover edition of my mosaic novel Seven Touches of Music has taken top honors at the 55th Annual Chicago Book Clinic Book and Media Show on November 9th.

Aio Publishing US editionThe design won the Award of Excellence in the General Trade Category. The Book and Media Show honors excellence in the planning, supervision, and execution of the physical and visual aspects of publishing in all genres across fourteen U.S. states. The General Trade Category heads the list of thirteen award categories.


Book printer McNaughton & Gunn, Inc., which prints more than 6,000 titles per year and manufactured Seven Touches of Music as well as Ian R. MacLeod’s novel The Summer Isles, which took top honors in the general trade category at the 2005 Chicago Book Clinic Book and Media Show, nominated the book for the award.

The design was produced in-house by Aio publisher Tiffany Jonas and art director Patrick Jonas. It was the company’s second book design. Incorporating a supple European-styled, premium-grade Skivertex cover in a deep charcoal color custom-mixed for this cover, foil embossing in black and green, and ridged black end sheets as well as black-edged interior paper, the novel was produced using animal-friendly materials and recycled, acid-neutral paper.

Link to the full press release.