DWJ in Israeli newspaper

Jon Noble jon_p_noble at yahoo.com
Fri Feb 13 15:42:57 EST 2004

Unfortunately, at the moment I'm so snowed under at
work that I only get a chance to catch up on weekends
(and its no more than a chance then) by which time
most things have often been said. I was a very good
article as such things go. It is pleasing to see
reviews/articles in the press from people who are
familair with DWJ. The review of Merlin in the Sydney
Morning Herald last year was from someone who expected
nothing less than a minor masterpiece from DWJ -
something well beyond HP, and it wasn't from either of
their regular fantasy/sf reviewers, both of whom would
probably have agreed.


--- Gili Bar-Hillel <gbhillel at netvision.net.il> wrote:
> I find it hard to believe that no one responded to
> this. Is there a problem
> with the list, or am I not getting messages again?
> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-dwj at suberic.net
> [mailto:owner-dwj at suberic.net]On Behalf Of Gili
> Bar-Hillel
> Sent: Wednesday, February 11, 2004 3:03 PM
> To: dwj at suberic.net
> Subject: DWJ in Israeli newspaper
> An interesting and respectably long piece on Diana
> Wynne Jones was published
> today in "Ha'aretz" daily newspaper. This was
> published in the section
> called "Galeria" (equivalent to Arts and Life
> sections in other papers),
> following a review of "Charmed Life" that was
> published in the Books
> supplement of the paper and a letter to the editor
> that I wrote in reply to
> the review. I bring you the piece, please keep in
> mind that this is a just a
> quick and rough translation for your perusal only.
> I'm retranslating some
> bits into English because I don't have time to go
> look the originals up.
> There Once was an Author Who Wrote about Wizards
> Diana Wynne Jones published her first fantasy books
> when J.K.Rowling was
> just a girl, but now, thanks to "Harry Potter", they
> have become
> bestsellers - And Jones has finally won the fame
> that evaded her
> by Ronit Rokas
> For 30 years Diana Wynne Jones has been writing 
> about Witches and Wizards
> who reside in dark castles, about he whose name must
> not be mentioned, and
> about children who learn to do magic and are
> unwittingly drawn into magical
> adventures full of fire and blood. She has written
> approximately 40 fantasy
> books, most of them for children, gained critical
> acclaim and won literary
> prizes, but the wide readership has evaded her. Only
> about four years ago,
> when the success of "Harry Potter" reached a peak
> and publishing houses were
> scrambling to find similar fantasy books for
> children, did "HarperCollins"
> decide to reissue all her books.
> Ever since, Jones has enjoyed a resurgence of
> interest, particularly in
> Great Britain and the U.S.A. By mid-2003
> approximately 700 thousand copies
> of her reissued books had been sold in Great Britain
> - not the Millions of
> Harry Potter, but by all means bestsellers. In about
> a year a cinematic
> version of her book "Howl's Moving Castle" is
> scheduled for release,
> directed by Hayako Miyazaki, who the Oscar for best
> animated movie for his
> film "Spirited Away". Last April Jones was even
> invited to meet the Blairs
> at number 10 Downing Street in London, and "The
> Guardian" wrote that a
> Cinderella Story had reached its happy end.
> In Israel, two of her early books were published
> only last year, "Charmed
> Life" (1977) and "The Lives of Christopher Chant"
> (1988), translated by
> Netta Yedid (Keter Publishing House). An additional
> novel, "Witch Week",
> perhaps the most popular of her books, is scheduled
> for publication in late
> 2004. [[This was news to me, see my comments at the
> end - G.B.H.]] Despite
> the cover illustrations that were inspired by the
> Harry Potter series - and
> moreover, despite the the fact that critics agree
> that they are no less
> worthy, and perhaps more worthy of attention that
> those books about the
> young wizard with the scar - none of them has so far
> reached the bestseller
> list.
> Gili Bar-Hillel, translator of the Harry Potter
> books into Hebrew and editor
> of one of Jones' books at Keter [[both, actually
> :-P]] said: "Diana Wynne
> Jones books have been favorites of mine since I was
> 7 years old. The problem
> is that nobody else in Israel seemed to be
> interested in them. I approached
> several publishers with suggestions to translate her
> books, but they all
> said, 'What, not another Harry Potter ripoff. Not
> interested.' I made a
> sneaky move to get them published at Keter. I was
> working as Editor of
> Children's books there att he time, and rather than
> bringing them to the
> Editorial Board [[by the usual procedure]] I went
> directly to the
> editor-in-chief, Zvika Meir, and he gave his
> approval."
> Jones finds it difficult to understand how after 30
> years of highly
> acclaimed writing, anyone dares refer to her books
> as ripoffs. When her
> books were reissued, she hadn't even heard of J. K.
> Rowling. At the time she
> must have missed the irony: HarperCollins, the
> publishing house that
> redeemed her books, was one of those who turned down
> "Harry Potter and the
> Philosopher's Stone", the first book in the
> millions-making series.
> Nowadays Rowling's name follows her everywhere. "I'm
> quite fed-up with the
> scandalmongers who ask me how I feel about this,"
> she wrote on her fansite,
> "I usually give them a slippery answer, how good it
> is for the genre, and
> I'm always quite pleased when they say, 'you're no
> fun'."
> At the same fansite
> (http://www.leemac.freeserve.co.uk) she once forsook
> the
> slippery answer and wrote on this issue: "I don't
> think I'm the only fantasy
> author who gets annoyed that most adults think
> Rowling invented the genre.
> It makes you wonder what all these ignorant people
> must have read when they
> were young." To one fan, she replied: 'I was a bit
> upset at the number of
> things that she [Rowling] had borrowed from me. It
> ought to have been
> acknowledged in some way. I just don't know how
> conscious and deliberate
> this literary theft was."
> Sean, 22 years old, dared to ask which she would
> prefer to read, her own
> books or the Harry Potter books. Jones, with the
> slightly bitter snappiness
> that marks her writing as well, replied: "In fact, I
> always prefer to read
> somebody else's books. I know too well what's about
> to happen in my own.
> Unfortunately, this problem also exists in the
> 'Harry Potter' books. I hope
> I'm never left on a desert Island with only the two
> options that you've
> given me."
> Many of Jones' books were written a good 20 years
> before the Harry Potter
> books, and the author blieves that "J. K. Rowling
> probably read them when
> she was about 14. I think she must have liked them."
> However Rowling herself
> has claimed in an interview to the "Times" a year
> ago that she has never
> read Jones' books.
> Yehiam Padan, editor and translator of Children's
> books, who wrote an
> educated review of the Hebrew translation of Jones'
> "Charmed Life"
> ("Ha'aretz", 10/22/03), claims that Jones'
> bitterness is justified. "She
> writes books that are better than the Harry Potter
> books, and yet for years
> she did not manage to reach a wide audience. Overall
> there are similarities
> between the books, but it doesn't really matter. The
> Harry Potter series is
> reminiscent of many other books, perhaps even more
> than it is of Jones'
> books. In my opinion, what happened with Rowling was
> a very healthy
> process - she read other books, and wrote a piece
> completely of her own,
=== message truncated ===

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