19 Sep / Publisher Profile: Vertical, Inc. [in AsianWeek]
So there seems to be two basic types of readers of Japanese fiction: those who revere the classic writers like Kawabata, Tanizaki, Ōe, and maybe Mishima with an occasional contemporary foray into Haruki Murakami or Banana Yoshimoto, and those who have read Arthur Golden’s cloying, cringe-inducing Memoirs of a Geisha and think they’ve “done” the Japanese thing.
Thank goodness for Vertical, Inc. with its translated texts for the everyman – or woman or precocious child, for that matter. While Japanese pop culture – think anime and video games – has become ubiquitous in the Western entertainment industry, the Japanese book market in translation has been dominated for the most part by so-called literary classics. No more. Vertical, Inc. is changing all that.
From bestsellers to quirky beach reads, Vertical’s titles don’t require a literature degree, or a complicated cultural exchange. To give Vertical’s titles even more mass market appeal, all of Vertical’s designs are the lauded creations of a moonlighting Chip Kidd, who today is considered the publishing industry’s most celebrated book cover designer.
Proof came last spring when Vertical debuted with four fabulous, diverse titles. The Guin Saga / Book One: The Leopard Mask by Kaoru Kurimoto, is the first of a multi-part bestselling fantasy saga (up to 90 installments in Japan, with a total of 100 planned!) featuring a pair of platinum-blonde orphaned twins and a powerful, leopard-wearing warrior who saves them. Ring by Koji Suzuki, is a hair-raising horror story about a mysterious videotape that kills, which spawned both the Japanese film Ringu and its Hollywood remake The Ring. Twinkle Twinkle by Kaori Ekuni is a love story of sorts about a troubled young woman who marries a young gay doctor and creates her own version of a family. Ashes by Kenzo Kitakata traces the story of a middle-aged yakuza who probably should have been The Boss but has stalled somewhere close to the top. … [click here for more]
Publisher profile: “Read Different. Read Vertical,” AsianWeek, September 19, 2003. A shorter version of this article appeared in the September/October 2003 issue of The Bloomsbury Review. Click here to view.