February 10, 2009

Doh! Attention authors! Please be careful when choosing names for your Japanese characters!

I know, I know....I said I wasn't going to write about books on this blog, but this is kind of related to my ongoing "living in Japan right now" theme.  

I found "Digital Fortress"  at the bottom of my pile of unread pbks. I was like, oh, some Dan Brown I haven't read! I kinda enjoyed Angels & Demons and the DaVinci Code, so why not? I already own the darn thing so I might as well read it! I have only read a few chapters so far and I really hate picking bad parts of a book no matter how much I might dislike one...'cause let's face it, it's someone's "baby" and you don't want to scream "ugly!" at it...well at least you don't want to rub it in too much...right?

However, I have to say that the name Ensei Tankado is not Japanese and that I am very disappointed with this error. Japan has a limited number of last names, not that there aren't a lot, but there is a system among the chaos. "Tan" and "kado" just don't go together. (It would have been ok if it were Tanikado.)

I can't say that Ensei is not a first is not impossible, there could be someone out there with that name, but it is not a John or a Dan or a would be like calling someone "Weariness" or "Expedition"(that's two different meanings that the word ensei actually has)...again, not impossible, but VERY unlikely.

That's why I didn't even guess that the guy was from Japan until the chapter that introduces him as being born in Hiroshima (even then I thought his mother or father was from another country and that would explain the exotic name).

This is why I dislike reading books by "non Japanese authors" who try to write about Japan or a Japanese character. There are some good stories out there, and many distinguished authors like Donald Keene...but the majority of it is full of mistakes and even if I KNOW it is fiction, it feels like a slap in the face that just wakes me up from the dream of reading...

Sorry, I just had to say this.

Well, back to reading the book...if I finish it I will post whatever "new" things I find out about the Japanese.


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