The Taiwanese edition of A Reunion of Ghosts showed up on my doorstep today. Translated editions of one’s books can be very mysterious. As was the case with the Polish edition of AROG, I had zero contact with the press or the translator. Of course I knew it was forthcoming, but I didn’t know when and I didn’t know they’d begun, much less completed, production. And while my Polish publisher did seek my feedback with respect to changing the title (in Poland, the book is called “The Subtle Charm of Suicide”) and my opinion on the jacket art (which I loved–I’ve been very lucky in terms of cover choices), the Taiwan press just handled everything on their own.
Since I can’t read Chinese, I can’t comment at all on the translator’s choices. I do like the cover they came up with–the photograph is by me and accordingly blurry–though I do think the bats and haunted house may give the impression this is a far more typical ghost story than it is. And, speaking of the house, it looks more like a gothic mansion than a typical New York apartment building…but there definitely some NY apartment buildings that, while taller than this one, resemble gothic mansions. But the bare trees speak to a specific scene in the book when the most ghostlike character appears and the three silhouettes of the main characters were borrowed from the original U.S. hardcover and it’s nice to see them again. All in all, I like the cover. I like -the mood it creates and above all the allusion to the haunted house we all dwell in: the home to our memories, many of which are generated by those human and therefore imperfect people who constitute our families.
When I think about how hands-on I was when it came to the US version of the book–concerned about every word, every dot of punctuation, every line on the cover, even the font choice–and how laissez-faire I’ve been with respect to the foreign versions, it makes me think of parents with multiple children, how they fuss and freak out and obsess when it comes to their first child but become increasingly relaxed as the family grows. If the cover of the next foreign translation of AROG is covered with applesauce and chocolate stains, I’ll no doubt shrug and say, “Oh, well. As long as it’s not playing with knives.”