Mystery Party, Mystery Anthology
Well, back from Tokyo safe and sound. The New Year's party of the Mystery Writers of Japan, Inc (日本推理作家協会) was held on January 29, and naturally I had to be there. It was a lot of fun meeting authors and other people, and I even managed to get something useful accomplished (besides standing in front of the sushi and scarfing up all the good ones, that is...).
As usual, it was a two-hour event, starting off with a short introductory speech and a toast, and then just lots of wandering around talking to people. Unlike many buffet-style dinners in Japan, almost nobody staked out a piece of turf in front of the food and scarfed up all the good stuff, because the room was laid out properly with various different foods and drinks scattered about here and there, and there was lots of everything. I did my best to snap up all the good sushi, but they kept bringing out more and more and eventually I had to admit defeat... it was a valiant effort, though!
Naturally I met with Ōsaka Gō, for the first time since releasing his massive The Red Star of Cadiz last December. We'd talked about it quite a bit by email and telephone, but this was the first time we actually met since then, and he was delighted to sign my personal copy... that's one of the perks of being a publisher and meeting authors, although I do regret not being able to get my Rampo books signed, I must say...
Ōsaka-san was also able to instantly identify the cover photo as the cathedral in Cadiz, not surprisingly.
In spite of the constant Brownian motion of partygoers, I also managed to locate Gonda Manji (権田萬治), one of the foremost authorities in Japanese crime fiction and the director of the Japan Library of Mystery Literature (ミステリー文学資料館) located in Ikebururo, Tokyo. We have been talking with Gonda-san and Shinpo Hirohisa (新保博久), who is probably the OTHER foremost authority in Japanese crime fiction, about a comprehensive overview of the field, from its origins in Meiji through the present. The details are still being fleshed out, but it looks like it will be between five and nine volumes, each with about a dozen stories and explanatory text describing key people, trends and developments in the field. With luck, we can begin to move on this project this year, although it is unquestionably a very long-term project.
This is something Kurodahan has wanted to do from the very start, and it's been simmering away for a long time already. As it does begin to pick up speed, though, a lot of people are asking to be a part of it, which is indeed nice. While there has been quite a bit of Japanese crime fiction published in English already, most of it exists in sort of a literary vacuum, leaving the English-reading public sadly uninformed about just how Japanese crime fiction developed, where it's been and where it's going. We hope that this new anthology will educate English readers about the field as a whole, and with luck get other publishers interested in releasing English translations selected from the enormous range of work available in Japanese. There's more than enough to go around...
Now if I can just find someone to fund all this publishing I could sleep a lot easier.