An award-winning story of love, friendship, and the power of human connection.
Kohei Araki believes that a dictionary is a boat to carry us across the sea of words. But after thirty-seven years of creating dictionaries, 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.
Along with 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 words that connect us all.
Shion Miura, the daughter of a well-known Japanese classics scholar, started an online book-review column before she graduated from Waseda University. In 2000, she made her fiction debut with Kakuto suru mono ni mar (A Passing Grade for Those Who Fight), a novel based in part on her own experiences during her job hunt. In 2006, she won the Naoki Prize for her linked-story collection Mahoro ekimae Tada Benriken (The Handymen in Mahoro Town). Her other prominent novels include Kaze ga tsuyoku fuiteiru (The Wind Blows Hard), Kogure-so monogatari (The Kogure Apartments), and Ano ie ni kurasu yonin no onna (The Four Women Living in That House). Fune o amu (The Great Passage) received the Booksellers Award in Japan in 2012 and was developed into a major motion picture. She has also published more than fifteen collections of essays and is a manga aficionado.
Juliet Winters Carpenter attended the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies in Tokyo. Her first translated book, Kobo Abe’s Mikkai (Secret Rendezvous), received the Japan-US Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature. In 2014, more than three decades later, Honkaku shosetsu (A True Novel), by Minae Mizumura, received the same award, as well as the Lewis Galantière Prize of the American Translators Association. Carpenter’s other translations—more than fifty—include nearly every genre of fiction and nonfiction, as well as film subtitles and song lyrics. A professor at Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts in Kyoto, Carpenter has lived in Japan since 1975. She’s licensed to teach the Japanese instruments koto and shamisen and sings alto in the Kyoto City Philharmonic Chorus. She and her husband divide their time between Kyoto and Whidbey Island, Washington.