- Narrated by: Tom Lawrence
- Length: 12 hrs and 38 mins
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Buy for $23.44
From the Sunday Times best-selling author of Six Four: an investigative thriller set amid the aftermath of an air disaster - perfect for fans of Spotlight and After the Crash.
1985. Kazumasa Yuuki, a seasoned reporter at the North Kanto Times, runs a daily gauntlet against the power struggles and office politics that plague its newsroom. But when an air disaster of unprecedented scale occurs on the paper's doorstep, its staff are united by an unimaginable horror and a once-in-a-lifetime scoop.
2002. Seventeen years later, Yuuki remembers the adrenaline-fuelled, emotionally charged seven days that changed his and his colleagues' lives. He does so while making good on a promise he made that fateful week - one that holds the key to its last unsolved mystery and represents Yuuki's final, unconquered fear.
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- Christopher Hood
An excellent story
Back in 2007 I began conducting research about the Japan Air Lines flight 123 crash (JL123), the world’s largest single plane crash. At the time there were no books in English wholly about the crash (there are now two – ‘Dealing with Disaster in Japan’ and ‘Osutaka’). There were over 60 books in Japanese, however – a number which has continued to grow over the years. Most of these books are either questioning what really happened to the plane (unlike in most English texts and documentaries, many Japanese are not convinced by the findings of the official report) or are covering the experiences of the bereaved families. However, amongst the books were two novels; ‘Shizumanu Taiyō’ and ‘Kuraimāzu Hai’. The second of these is what has now been published in English under the title of ‘Seventeen’. The book is a bit of a puzzle. As other reviewers have commented, referring to it as a thriller doesn’t really do the book justice. It’s not completely about a disaster. It’s not totally about the life of a journalist. If anything, it’s about humanity. But getting to grips with the full meaning of the book takes time – I’ve read the Japanese version many times, watched the two Japanese dramatizations numerous times, met and interviewed Hideo Yokoyama himself (and also some of those involved with the dramatizations), and have now read the English version, but the full implications of some of the words didn’t come to me straight away. That is not because there is a problem with the way the book is written. It’s just that it’s one of those books where you need time to let it get under your skin and you need to give time to thinking about what is written. Having said that, it is also an easy-page turner and it’s possible to enjoy the story for the sheer drama. Although the Japanese title is based on the English word’s ‘Climber’s High’, the official translation has ended up as ‘Seventeen’. I assume this is a nod to the only other translation (‘Six Four’), as things stand, of one of Yokoyama’s books being numerical. The significance of the number seventeen is in the text and is further reinforced by Yokoyama’s own words in the introduction to the English version (which doesn’t appear in the Japanese version). Whilst not devoid of meaning, the English title does make it that much harder to find when searching for it – particularly if you make the mistake of looking for it as ‘17’ rather than ‘Seventeen’. The cover has also mirrored the style of the English version of ‘Six Four’, but I can’t help that feel a cover more in keeping the original Japanese version would have been preferable. But in the end, we should not judge a book by the cover – the contents are a masterpiece. The translator has done an excellent job in faithfully keeping the feel of the original Japanese text. Japanese doesn’t always map well into English and so this can be a real challenge. That one of the key phrases in the original Japanese presents itself as a riddle and challenge for the protagonist to fully comprehend, coming up with something in English that can also remain a riddle and open to various interpretations must have been especially difficult. I particularly liked the translation of the ‘Sayama article’ and find it much more emotive than the one used in the English subtitles of the 2008 movie (and which also appear in the book Dealing with Disaster in Japan). It is a shame that publishers don’t allow translators to have a short chapter to discuss the challenges they had to deal with and to explain some of the translation choices they made. There are a few things that could be improved about the audiobook version of 'Seventeen'. First the inclusion of a Foreword by Yokoyama has thrown out the chapter numbers as the Foreword is listed as Chapter 1. Second, and more significantly, it is a real shame that so many of the Japanese names and words are mispronounced - and some inconsistently. For those familiar with Japanese the errors will make you cringe, but I suspect that many more will be unaware of the errors and so it will be less of an issue for them. I sincerely hope that we will see more translations of Yokoyama books in the years to come. He has a very engaging style of writing, with vivid descriptions, engaging dialogues and wonderfully crafted storylines. I hope too that we will see a translation one day of the other novel related to the JAL flight 123 crash, ‘Shizumanu Taiyō’. As for ‘Seventeen’, it is a fabulous read for, and should be a compulsory read for anyone who deals with journalism (either as a journalist or as a consumer) on a regular basis.
22 people found this helpful
- Ian Campbell
Worth a 2nd read to appreciate the quality of the
It took a few chapters to appreciate the quality of the writing but I'm definitely looking forward to returning to listen again.