Thursday, 11 October 2012

In Japan, Everything is Round

Now that I know that Murakami hasn't won the Nobel, I can relax and post these beautiful cover redesigns of his backlist, done by Noma Bar (uninformative website here) for Vintage UK. Click for a great big version.

The black, white, red and circular design constants are very nicely played: trying to use and play with the Japanese rising sun motif in 15 different but meaningful ways must have been a challenge, but these covers meet it admirably.

They're also very reminiscent of these other Vintage UK covers, for the Classics editions of Yukio Mishima's  'Sea of Fertility' tetralogy, also in red, black (well, grey), white and featuring circular suns and moons. These designs were all the work of Anna Crone, drawing on old Japanese woodblock prints.

I might normally be inclined to rail against the Japan=rising sun imagery idea as a cliche, except that for the Murakamis it has been done so well, and for the Mishimas, well, Mishima was such a nationalistic nutbag who identified himself with old, imperial Japan so strongly that it is entirely appropriate to use that symbol on his books.


jb said...

Nice, but the three that don't match up (Running, Birthday Stories, Underground) are a little annoying. Unless that's deliberate, since they're non-fiction/edited collections?

Murakami's tended to do pretty well out of cover design, in any event. I quite like the white-based older Vintage paperbacks - some of which are quite close to these new ones.

JRSM said...

Except for Birthday Stories, they do use the circle, much reduced.

He has had lots of luck with his designs--he seems to be a prestige project for his English-language publishers.

Tulkinghorn said...

I like best the collaboration between Chris Kidd (who does all the Knopf/Vintage covers) and Chris Ware for the US hard-cover Wind-Up Bird Chronicles. The dust jacket is a photograph of a clockwork bird and the boards are Ware's design for the clockwork -- with Ware's design in invisible relief on the jacket.

If you are either young or late to the Murakami crowd, you should seek it out.

Or you could hold out for Knopf to get a clue and restore the extensive cuts in the English edition.....

JRSM said...

I had no idea they'd cut it--I assume the UK edition I read was cut too, then. That's really annoying.