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Publisher's Summary

A charmingly warm and hopeful story of love, friendship, and the power of human connection. Award-winning Japanese author Shion Miura's novel is a reminder that a life dedicated to passion is a life well lived.

Inspired as a boy by the multiple meanings to be found for a single word in the dictionary, Kohei Araki is devoted to the notion that a dictionary is a boat to carry us across the sea of words. But after thirty-seven years creating them at Gembu Books, it's time for him to retire and find his replacement.

He discovers a kindred spirit in Mitsuya Majime - a young, disheveled square peg with a penchant for collecting antiquarian books and a background in linguistics - whom he swipes from his company's sales department.

Led by his new mentor and joined by an energetic, if reluctant, new recruit and an elder linguistics scholar, Majime is tasked with a career-defining accomplishment: completing The Great Passage, a comprehensive 2,900-page tome of the Japanese language. On his journey, Majime discovers friendship, romance, and an incredible dedication to his work, inspired by the bond that connects us all: words.

©2012 Shion Miura (P)2017 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved. Translation © 2017 Juliet Winters Carpenter.

Critic Reviews

"Brian Nishii is the perfect narrator for this audiobook... The book's translation combined with Nishii's narration makes the story sound and feel Japanese - there's a subtle choppiness, and certain word choices and phrases aren't what native English speakers would say - and it's all entirely fitting and charming....a unique and fascinating listen." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Engaging, unusual, fun

Engaging performance of a topic of importance to all bibliophiles. Fascinating cast of characters. Also, a nice depiction of productive obsession. This makes it sound stuffy, but it isn't - it's fun!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A Fun, Light Novel

It's not going to change the world. The characters are pretty much stock characters -- the nerd, the guy who thinks he's much cooler than he is, the beauty who sees beyond beauty (and thus, hope this isn't a SPOILER, falls for the nerd).

The goal isn't that important. Creating a physical dictionary in the internet age? And yet, if you love words and reading, this is a worthwhile, but not a profound, listen. Think of this as dessert, rather than a meal with all major food groups represented.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Sparkly
  • SF, CA, United States
  • 03-03-18

A Low Key Enjoyable Novel

I enjoyed this experience. There is something intriguing to me about stories set in deeply detailed, specialized environments. In this case, the world of Japanese dictionary publishing. It's not a potboiler, in terms of dramatic events, but in exchange one gets intricacies of Japanese office and social culture. As a Japanese language learner, I really enjoyed the focus on words. I could see how this might not be as interesting to folks without a prior relationship to Japanese language. But in encouragement, I will say that the translation is really good - I always felt like I got the context of a situation without over-explaining - and the narrator, Brian Nishii, is excellent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting read about another culture

What did you like best about The Great Passage? What did you like least?

Cultural study bestIt seemed long and drawn out.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The descriptions of how the characters thought. Nice people to know about.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

He did a good job with interpreting a foreign thinking.

Was The Great Passage worth the listening time?

Only because I was doing something else.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

The Great Passage

I enjoyed the narrator's voice and his ability to give each character their own personality. I found the book a little bit slow, but am glad I finished it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful Story

Much to learn if you only listen to what is really there. A wonderful love story of words and people. They can be like a construction company building together or like a wrecking ball. Really enjoyed the book.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Different

This book wasn't what I had expected. It took me a bit to get into it but overall I enjoyed the story. Nice take on the complexity of words and importance of labeling or giving meaning to our ability to express ourselves and to be understood.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Watch the Anime First

The book fills in several things, but the anime does a better job making the individual characters more distinct.

Overall, both are well worth it!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Odd yet mesmerising

This story follows the lives of several people working at a publishing company in the dictionary section.

They can be shy, outgoing or easily irritated, just like everyone else in the world. Feelings of love and its meaning are explored along with what the true meaning of some of the individual words people use when describing love.

If you're intetested in the etymology of language and enjoy a nice story, I think you'll enjoy this book.

I enjoyed it very much.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Totally absorbing

The narrator was very easy to listen to. Helped that I speak Japanese so that intricacies of word use and definitions made complete sense. I love words and their etymologies and looking up precise meanings. This book was totally enjoyable and I listened to it in just 2 "episodes" while I did chores during one weekend.