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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)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Absolutely Delightful!

I will never again pick up a dictionary or look up a word without remembering this wonderful story! The dedication of the main characters to portray the accurate meaning of words, and how that mission defines them, is amazing. I also enjoyed learning a bit about Japanese culture. If you have a love for words, and enjoy how people interact, this story is a win/win!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Joy and Passion

This is a remarkable book about a group of people who discover that their jobs become their passion and their various journeys of self discovery. The translation is good and the reader is excellent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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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

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Boring, boring.....snoor

The reviews before me have beautifully stated my impressions of the book. "A book all about language, folded into the story of the making of a dictionary." The concept sounded interesting. In actuality, it was just boring. I leave that to the author because the lack of character development was apparent in the first two hours (out of 7.5 hours) of listening. The translator or the narrator could not have created what wasn't there. This story produced some interesting tidbits about publishing a dictionary, but fell flat as a character-driven storyline.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A novel for word lovers

Sweet and quirky and surprisingly engaging given that it's a book in English (translated from Japanese) about Japanese etymology.

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good translation, boring characters

A book all about language, folded into the story of the making of a dictionary? Right up my alley. There were some nice ruminations on how certain words have a variety of meanings, but overall the novel just didn't wow me. The characters were not that interesting to me, and I even had trouble understanding the author's overall message. Kudos to the translator, I can't imagine figuring out how to get across in English concepts that were probably more nuanced in the original Japanese. I think the translation had little to do with my lukewarm reaction. The translator cannot create compelling characters if the author failed to do so.

[Listened to this as an audio book read by Brian Nishii. I've listened to other books read by this performer and find his delivery to be adequate, but somehow stilted. It just doesn't flow smoothly, seems jerky.]

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  • mad E
  • 08-09-18

Perfect

Found this from its anime and it’s just as good definitely in my top 3 audiobooks of all time

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-08-18

Geeky, charming

Who would ever think that a story about dictionary publication could be so charming, funny and engaging. Generally, translated stories should be written in a way that disguises the fact that in was originally written in another language, but this story is an exception to that rule given that the central theme is the meaning and organisation of Japanese words. Juliet Winters Carpenter mixes the right amount of Japanese in for the content to stay relevant and interesting. Brian Nishii as usual does a great job performing for the audiobook. I recommend also trying to track down the film which does a terrific job of bringing the story to life.