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Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Thu 23
Jul
2015

Lexicon Foreign Covers

Lexicon Today I went looking for Lexicon covers. Usually I’m sent a copy when a foreign edition comes out, but not always. In those cases I just get surprised to discover that something like this exists:

Russian book cover of Lexicon by Max Barry, depicting young woman with white hair shouting a magical word while a gun fires a bullet from her mouth. Yes, seriously.

This is Russian. I actually thought it was awesome until I noticed the handgun poking out of her mouth. That kind of took it over the line for me. It reminds me of a terrifying poster for some werewolf movie that used to hang in the window of a video store I had to walk past as a kid, where a wolf’s snout is poking out of the man’s mouth. That was really scary. I was about fifteen but even so.

Turkish book cover of Lexicon by Max Barry, on which is the Moon

This one is from Turkey. I didn’t remember any Moon references in Lexicon, so I checked. I did actually use the word “moon” twice and “moonlight” once, in sentences that were about something else.

Taiwanese book cover of Lexicon by Max Barry, showing a young woman's partially obscured face while Taiwanese writing dissolves around her

That’s pretty great. Good job, Taiwan.

Greek book cover of Lexicon by Max Barry, showin an eye with writing around it

What? Come on, Greece. It’s like you tried to redraw the American paperback cover from memory.

Israeli book cover of Lexicon by Max Barry, depicting the back of a man in a suit walking up steps

This is from Israel. It strikes me as the philosophical opposite of the Russian cover. It’s funny how the same book says to one person, “Man in a suit walking up a flight of concrete steps,” and to another, “Woman shooting bullets out of her mouth.” And neither of those things happens in the story.

Comments

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Machine Man subscriber Toby O (#2900)

Location: Sydney
Quote: "You can't sell your soul to the devil if he's not buying"
Posted: 583 days ago

I've not really thought before about how random some book covers can be. Reading this makes me wonder if the publishers just have a stack of generic images. Another book? Just take a picture off the top and write some words on it. That'll do.

Goran Jonsson (#6929)

Location: Gothenburg, SWEDEN
Quote: "The Future is Now"
Posted: 582 days ago

Look what I found. :) Compare russian MISTERIUM cover with the swedish Millennium triology covers (by Stieg Larsson). www.norstedts.se/pa-gang/nyheter/2011/Millenniumtrilogin-sald-i-over-50-miljoner-ex/

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 580 days ago

Hmm! So is that just the style of the publisher/imprint, or a deliberate imitation?

Michael Ricksand (#2212)

Location: Terra
Quote: "You do not have a right to be stupid."
Posted: 577 days ago

I'm Swedish just like Goran, so I can answer that.

Short answer: Deliberate imitation.

Long answer: As you can see, the pics that Goran linked are the Swedish Millennium trilogy covers. The publisher has never used that kind of cover design for any other books than the Millennium series. Here in Sweden, everybody who reads recognizes those covers. When Millennium was published in Russia, they used those same cover designs, and just translated all the Swedish text on the covers to Russian. So when Russian readers see Misterium on the bookstore shelves, it'll catch their attention.

Michael Ricksand (#2212)

Location: Terra
Quote: "You do not have a right to be stupid."
Posted: 566 days ago

UPDATE: I saw another Russian book with that design the other day at the library, when I was browsing the foreign-language section. Also, if I remember correctly it had the headline "Misterium" toom. Maybe they've got an entire imprint called "Misterium"?

Kilna (#6977)

Location: San Diego, CA
Posted: 527 days ago

If you'd like to relive your youthful nightmares, the poster was for "The Company of Wolves":

www.google.com/search?q=the+company+of+wolves+poster&tbm=isch

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 527 days ago

@Kilna:

Yes! That was exactly it. Well done. I couldn't find that when writing this blog.

Matthew (#7002)

Location: Katoomba
Quote: "life IS mystical, it's just that we get used to it."
Posted: 483 days ago

Hi Max!

I picked up a copy of Lexicon over the weekend from Dymocks, the one with the cover of the large, blue eye on a white background, and at a quick glance I saw the publisher was UK based. However, the orthography of it is of the US standard: are your books only published in US English?

Matthew
English Language Teacher

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 445 days ago

@Matthew:

I write them in US English. Individual publishers decide whether to localize a book or not. Sometimes my Australian publisher localizes me back to Australian English, which is fun.

I'm actually not sure what makes them decide one way or another. But with LEXICON, the UK edition is used by all Commonwealth countries, so that probably means none of them are localized.

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