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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

For the reader who has everything (except a good command of English)

Here are the covers of my Italian editions of The Preservationist and Fallen. What's interesting, to me at least, is that the Italians went with a very obvious image for Noah's story: a big boat on the water, stormy seas, dark clouds; the standard-issue imagery for the story, in other words. But for Fallen they shifted into this weird psychadelic eye-popping mode, about as un-"Biblical" as you can get. It reminds me of the climactic sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey. I'm not at all sure I like the cover--in fact I doubt I'd ever pick it up, not least of all because the bright shocking pink puts me off, and that baby is kind of weird. But it's certainly edgy and not staid or typical, which I appreciate.

My UK publisher Canongate tries to go for edgy also, and sometimes it works better than other times. I like this cover for The Flood quite a lot (my publisher didn't like the title Preservationist, and wanted to change it to something more direct), but I think the Samson cover tries too hard for irony or something; the overly self-conscious anachronism of the scissors with English lettering on them is maybe too clever for its own good. But then for the new edition, this cover was replaced with a cartoon that I like even less, so, be careful what you wish for. Both these covers have colored washes overlaying them, which don't show up on screen. The Flood is pale blue, while Samson is silvery gray. There's also a Fallen cover in this mode, with an apple, done in red. Meanwhile, the first UK edition of Fallen had this super-intense close-up up-the-nostril shot of this guy who was, presumably, Cain (the mark on his forehead is the giveaway). I vacillated between hating it and thinking it was pretty good. It's one of those love-it-or-hate-it covers, I think. My mom hates it.

Then we have our German pals, who are fairly incomprehensible when it comes to cover design. The Noah story here features a bearded white guy pointing down from the heavens; the title translates as something like Orders From the Top, which is sort of a business expression which, I gather, is used somewhat ironically in this case. I don't actually mind the image too much. The cover for Fallen, though, is awful. The cartoon children in the middle are wrong; they miss the essential sadness at the heart of the story, while the white & strawberry-blonde Adam & Eve overlook (or ignore) the fact that I was trying to subvert that convention by playing around with race in the story. Oh well.

Overall, then, a mixed bag, but I can't complain too much. Better by far to have foreign editions with some good and some so-so covers, than no foreign editions at all. So I'll leave you with two of my favorites: the Japanese version of Noah, put out in hardcover by Sony books, and the Russian one, from Amphora. This image doesn't really do the Japanese book justice: the real-life cover is much less pale and washed out, but you get an idea of the childlike illustration. The Russian book I just love; love the colors, love the fish. It's a small hardback, about the size of a mass-market paperback, and the colors are matte except the boat and the fish, which are shiny. Love it. It looks like The Hobbit or something, which is fine by me.

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