Baskerville, the new crime and thriller imprint of John Murray, will publish Kaoru Takamura's Lady Joker in 2022, 25 years after its original Japanese publication. It will be translated into English by Marie Iida and Allison Markin Powell.
Yassine Belkacemi, editor and publicity director, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in all formats (including audio) from Hannah Whitaker at The Rights People, on behalf of Soho Press. Lady Joker: Volume One will be published in February 2022, with Volume Two to follow in February 2023.
Lady Joker is set in Tokyo in 1995, where five men meet at the race track every Sunday to bet on horses. They have little in common except a deep disaffection with their lives, but together they represent the social struggles and griefs of post-war Japan. Intent on revenge against a society that values corporate behemoths more than human life, the five conspirators decide to carry out a heist: kidnap the c.e.o. of Japan's largest beer conglomerate and extract blood money from the company's corrupt financiers.
Lady Joker has taken seven years to translate and is Takamura's first work to be published in English. It has sold one million copies in Japan and has been adapted for film and television, the publisher said.
Belkacemi said: "An afternoon’s aimless trawling and Googling of the internet isn’t always a waste of time, as that was how I came across Lady Joker. It was then an extra pleasure to find that our friends at Soho Press had produced a fantastic English translation which was seven years in the making. I’m so grateful to Juliet Grames at Soho Press and the wonderful translators, Marie Iida and Allison Markin Powell, for their incredible work on Lady Joker. I’m delighted that Baskerville will be the proud UK publisher of Kaoru Takamura, bringing her work to the UK for the first time and helping her to gain deserved and wider recognition as one of Japan’s literary masters.
"If you love the sprawling intricacy of a 19th-century novel mixed with the gripping social politics of 'The Wire', Lady Joker is for you."
Takamura is the author of 13 novels and has won Japanese literary awards including the Japan Mystery and Suspense Grand Prize, the Mainichi Arts Award, the Naoki Prize, the Noma Literary Award, the Yomiuri Prize, the Shinran Prize, the Jiro Osaragi Prize, the Mystery Writers of Japan Award and the Japan Adventure Fiction Association Prize.
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