An editor facing retirement, Araki must pass on his life’s work to the next generation. The dictionary he began will one day be a ship so sturdy and well-built it can cross even the roughest seas—carrying as cargo not only the obvious meanings of a common word like “dog,” but also all the connotations and variations in usage, however surprising (why would the word for man’s best friend also be used negatively as in “a dog’s death” or “you dog”?). After hearing his new boss’s impassioned pitch for Sea of Words, promising young recruit Majime is honored to take over and humbled by the challenge. By exploring the complexity of even the most unassuming of words, Majime discovers—as he grows into a good man, falls in love, and enjoys a fulfilling career—that richness and beauty are offered by the simpler things in life.
And by the end of this magnificent book, which follows the long timeline of the dictionary’s creation, I found myself celebrating the ease of making connections. We can find one another—across a sea of language, culture, or ideology—through words, defined for all of us by a shared point of reference, like a sturdy dictionary, forged for the earnest purpose of bringing us together.
- Gabriella Page-Fort, Editor