The Great Passage by Shion Miura has been made into a movie and an anime, and now the original novel has been translated into English by Juliet Winters Carpenter. Here is the blurb:
A charmingly warm and hopeful story of love, friendship, and the power of human connection, award-winning Japanese author Shion Miura’s novel is a reminder that a life dedicated to passion is a life well lived.
Inspired as a boy by the multiple meanings to be found for a single word in the dictionary, Kohei Araki is devoted to the notion that a dictionary is a boat to carry us across the sea of words. But after thirty-seven years creating them at Gembu Books, it’s time for him to retire and find his replacement.
He discovers a kindred spirit in Mitsuya Majime—a young, disheveled square peg with a penchant for collecting antiquarian books and a background in linguistics—whom he swipes from his company’s sales department.
Led by his new mentor and joined by an energetic, if reluctant, new recruit and an elder linguistics scholar, Majime is tasked with a career-defining accomplishment: completing The Great Passage, a comprehensive 2,900-page tome of the Japanese language. On his journey, Majime discovers friendship, romance, and an incredible dedication to his work, inspired by the bond that connects us all: words.
The Great Passage is the story of a young man, Majime, finishing growing up and finding his place in the world. It is the story of the power of words and the value of perseverance in projects that don’t see their fulfillment for years if not decades. It is the story of the people who intersect our lives and leave an influence, usually for good. There is little action, but there is plenty of drama, both in personal and professional lives. This is also a very interesting characters. Some find it harder to fit into the world of dictionary creation and editing than others, but in the end all find a niche and leave their mark. If you enjoyed the anime, this book is well worth reading. If you enjoy slow stories that take their time to develop, this book might be worth checking out. If you are looking for a novel from a different country, consider this one. If you love words, you will probably fit right in with Majime and his co-workers.