Lian Hearn writes...

Sugiyama Kazuko (1940-2006)

I was introduced to Kazuko-san by a mutual friend Kimura Miyo. They had been classmates at Shizuoka University. I had come across the poem from the Manyoshu that opens Across The Nightingale Floor and found it extremely evocative. Miyo-san wrote out the original Japanese for me and then while talking to Kazuko-san about it suggested that she should write it for me. I was so delighted when the calligraphy arrived I asked if I might use it in the Australian and British editions of the book. Now it has appeared in over 18 countries round the world. It was one of the best gifts anyone had ever made me and I am deeply grateful. Kazuko-san herself was very happy about this and said it was proof that she had lived.

Kazuko-san worked for many years for the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Miyo-san wrote about her,

She was honest and sincere. She was shy and not aggressive. She was not a typical beauty. Her voice was attractive and had strength. Always she worked for others. Her work as an editor, especially as a proof reader symbolises how she lived.

I never met Kazuko-san, though we spoke once on the phone and had exchanged letters, hers written in her beautiful style, works of art in themselves. We had planned to meet in 2004 but ill health prevented her from coming to Shizuoka. And we had hoped to meet this year but now this will not happen. When I heard the news of her death I felt as if I had lost a close friend.

I hope when people read the pieces of calligraphy with which the Tales of the Otori begin that they will think of the artist who drew them, Sugiyama Kazuko.

Across the Nightingale Floor calligraphy

ATNF calligraphy

Grass for his Pillow calligraphy

GFHP calligraphy

Brilliance of the Moon calligraphy

BOTM calligraphy


Lian Hearn writes...

Between the Darkness and the Light

I’ve written five books in the Tales of the Otori series. It started as a trilogy (Across the Nightingale Floor, Grass for his Pillow and Brilliance of the Moon) but I realised I had more to say about the characters and have written one book (Heaven’s Net is Wide) that ends where Across the Nightingale Floor begins...

Across the Nightingale Floor

A land of incomparable beauty torn by civil war An ancient tradition undermined by spies and assassins A society of rigid castes and codes subverted by love Takeo is raised among the Hidden, whose beliefs forbid them to kill. When his family fall victim to religious persecution at the hands of Lord Iida of the Dairyo clan, he is rescued and adopted by the warrior, Shigeru, of the Otori clan...

Brilliance of the Moon

A beautiful, haunting evocation of a time and place just beyond the reach of an outside world, the third instalment of the Tales of the Otori transports us once again to a medieval Japan of Hearn s imagination, a land of formal ritual and codes, harsh beauty and deceptive appearance...