Shelf Unbound: What do you make of the fact that just three percent of books published in the United States are books in translation? Sarah Skilton: It’s disappointing, though I can’t say I’m shocked. I wonder if some readers worry they won’t relate to stories that were initially written in a different language? If so, that’s a real shame; I believe books reveal how interconnected and similar people of all languages, countries, and cultures actually are. It’s pretty much an effortless and entertaining way to experience empathy.
Shelf Unbound: What’s your favorite book on this list and why? Skilton: Probably The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura because I loved being immersed in the world of a master pickpocket in Tokyo. The writing style was crisp, smart, and literary. One of the reasons I love to read is so I can experience lives that are dangerous or extraordinary. I can visit places--in physical and philosophical terms--that I’d otherwise never know. Also, to me, magic and sleight-of-hand trickery exist along a continuum and I enjoy reading about both.
Shelf Unbound: You’ve published two well-reviewed YA books and your first novel for adults, Club Deception, Shelf Unbound: I love the comes out next year. Tell us list of Japanese books about Club Deception. in translation you’ve put Skilton: Sure! Here’s the logline: together here. What are some Life behind the velvet curtain of a commonalities about these private magic club in downtown books that appeal to you? Los Angeles, Club Deception depicts Skilton: Thank you! I wanted the love lives, scandals, rivalries, to include a variety of tales, both and murder that surround a in terms of genre and location group of modern-day magicians (Japan is a lot more than its and the women who love, inspire, most famous cities), and I think I or control them. succeeded. What I didn’t realize I had the best time writing until later was that most of the this book! My husband is a books I selected happen to depict professional magician, and I people who are outsiders, isolated absolutely loved creating the from co-workers, family, or friends. tight-knit, intense, sexy, and Their isolation comes in the form dysfunctional world in which the of criminal behavior, grief, or story takes place (all fictional, I loneliness. They’re all seeking a swear!). It’s part romance, part mystery, and part thriller. connection. Sometimes they find The stories I wanted to tell one; other times they drift farther (in Bruised especially but also and farther away from society. 32
in High & Dry) wouldn’t have made sense without teenagers; their ages were integral to and intertwined with the plot, which was terrific. On the flip side, the depth and breadth of their experiences were necessarily limited. With Club Deception I was eager to include adult perspectives in a way that felt fresh to me. I couldn’t think about their lives so much in terms “firsts,” which forced me to justify why this particular story was worthy of being told. I had to push myself and ask, “What makes it stand out? What makes it special or different?” Also, I had the characters’ whole lives to draw from, which was equal parts exciting, scary, and invigorating! From “8 Great Japanese Books in Translation that Aren’t by Haruki Murakami” by Sarah Skilton, originally published at www. barnesandnoble.com/blog/8-greatjapanese-books-in-translation-thatarent-by-haruki-murakami. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.