Wednesday 16 December 2020

Inside the Red Circle

Anyone who has spent any time in my presence will have been bored to tears by me going on about how much I love: 
  • novellas
  • translated fiction
  • beautifully designed books
so it should be no surprise that the Red Circle Minis series does it for me.

Red Circle is a small publishing house dedicated to bringing Japanese writers to the attention of English readers, and its opening salvo is a series of novellas. What is particularly interesting and commendable is that, though 5 of the first 6 six books are in translation, for all of the books this is their first publication anywhere.

The books themselves cover a wide variety of genres: science-fiction, historical fiction, reality TV satire, domestic crime and more. I initially bought several of them as ebooks due to me being a fool, because when I got hold of the physical books I found these really are beautifully designed objects. 

The books are all designed by Aiko Ishida, about whom I have been able to learn almost nothing. Her design work makes use of textures and patterns from traditional Japanese textiles, building materials and garden designs, against traditional paper textures, to give a consistent but timeless look to the series which is simple and elegant. The two books by Kanji Hanawa use the same elements with different colours and textures. You'll also note there's not a cliched cherry blossom to be seen.

Red Circle has more books planned, and it will be very interesting to see where this insider's guide to contemporary Japanese literature will take us.

The online magazine Red Circle publishes is a good guide to the company's ethos and interests. If you like good books or good design then you need to look at the work they're doing.