Le bureau des jardins et des étangs
THE DEPARTMENT OF GARDENS AND PONDS
Translation sample in English available
Rights sold to Germany (Klett Cotta, at auction), Greece (Stereoma), Italy (Ponte Alle Grazie, preempt), Russie (on-going auction), Spain (Alfaguara, at auction) and UK (MacLehose Press, WEL, preempt)
Japan, in the Year 1000. Miyuki is a lowly carp fisherman's widow, but she will travel all the way to the Emperor's court to fulfil her unusual destiny. A sensual coming-of-age novel.
Japan, around the year 1000. Shimae, a peasant village on the banks of the river Kusagawa.
This humble village has a talent: it is home to the fisherman Katsuro, a virtuoso in the art of catching pricelessly beautiful carp and transporting them to the imperial city of Heiankyo, the city of every refinement and most importantly the site of the Office of Gardens and Ponds. When Katsuro dies, having drowned himself in the river, which of the villagers can follow in his footsteps and meet this challenge? Carrying on the weighty responsibility of wicker baskets filled with squirming, muddy carp and encountering every danger on the way to the capital? Who? If not Katsuro’s widow, the exquisite, timorous and delicate Miyuki. But will she prove capable of such a task? What does she, Miyuki the little peasant, the widow who has never left her village, know of the evils along the way, of witchery and war, magical animals, priests who may not be what they seem and tea houses that sell everything but tea? What does she know about the Empire’s capital or about Nagusa Watanabe, Director of the Office of Gardens and Ponds, crouching in wait for her in his labyrinth of traps and wonders?
After this terrifying, sensual initiatory journey, Miyuki is sullied but free. She will never be the same again. Nor will her little world be the same as before.
Didier Decoin was twenty when he published his first book, Le Procès à l’amour (Le Seuil, 1966). It was followed by some twenty other titles, including Abraham de Brooklyn (Le Seuil, 1972 Prix des libraries) and John l’Enfer (Le Seuil, 1977 Prix Goncourt). He is currently Secretary General of the Académie Goncourt, has been Chairman of the Écrivains de Marine since 2007 and is a member of the Académie de Marine.