Yesterday, while chasing down various things about Shin Kyung-sook and Please Look After Mom, I suddenly wondered if the publication of two versions (US and UK) was splitting the Amazon rating of the book. I took a look and discovered that not only was the UK version having little impact on the US one, it was in fact having about no impact on anything at all. The first ranking below is the ranking for the UK volume, the second for the US one. This comparison is evidence that the US is substantially more internationally literate than the UK, or that something else went wrong along the way (I will leave that decision to my readers).
So what else could have gone wrong along the way? The only initial difference I noticed was the “mom” which sounds folksy and friendly, versus the “mother” which sounds Victorian and threatening. Imagine how terrible it would have been if the jinxed UK editors had gone to the even more bizarre UK locution, “mum?”
But there are other differences as well, if one looks at the covers:
The UK cover lacks any individual people, settling for cutouts, features a lower border that looks like an acid-trip in a rose-lattice, and a line-drawing style straight from an 18th century drawing-room.
I’m sure there’s more.
But, dear reader, I leave it to you – is the success in English of the US version evidence of more interest in translated literature in the United States, or worse book design and vocabulary in the UK?^^
Or is there, perhaps, a more statistical explanation? ;-p