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Fifty Shades to seduce Japan

Author E. L. James attending the Fifty Shades of Grey – The Classical Album launch at Soho House in New York City in September.

Author E. L. James attending the Fifty Shades of Grey – The Classical Album launch at Soho House in New York City in September.

Erotic bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey will hit Japanese bookshelves tomorrow, its publisher said yesterday, hoping to repeat the breathless success it has enjoyed around the world.

A Hollywood film adaptation of the book is reported to be forthcoming

The novel, which features a sado-masochistic sexual relationship between a young college graduate and a billionaire tycoon, is expected to be a particular hit among Japanese housewives, the publisher said.

“We have high hopes for the book, which has become a cultural phenomenon in the Western world,” said Takayuki Yorimitsu of Hayakawa Publishing Corp.

“We are seeing a strong level of preorders from bookstores. Considering the pattern seen overseas, we believe it should attract women in their 30s and 40s,” he said.

The firm is betting that Japan’s voracious readers will find the racy romance as satisfying as their contemporaries in Britain and the US, where it has dominated the bestseller lists.

“Once we received a rough translation, we found it easy to read and very accessible,” Yorimitsu said. “This is a book that casual readers or even non-readers of novels will like,” he said.

The Japanese translation comes in two volumes and runs to a bumper 800 pages. The English language version is around 500.

Translator Makiko Ikeda, who has worked on novels by The Bone Collector writer Jeffery Deaver and Kay Scarpetta-creator Patricia Cornwell, was hired for the job, producing what Yorimitsu said was a “nail-biting page turner”.

Ikeda has also done translations of works by Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk and Scottish literary bad boy Irvine Welsh.

Hayakawa is preparing to release the Japanese editions of the second and third instalments of the English language series next year. Despite its huge commercial success, Fifty Shades of Grey, by British author E.L. James, has been criticised for its clunky prose and unbelievable characterisations.

A Hollywood film adaptation of the book is reported to be forthcoming, with names including Scarlett Johansson and Angelina Jolie reportedly linked to the project.

Fifty Shades of Grey has proved popular in e-book format in Britain, newspapers have reported.

Its publication in Japan comes as online shopping giant Amazon is readying to release a Japanese-language-capable Kindle e-reader in a bid to capture a slice of the potentially lucrative, but underdeveloped, e-book market.

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