Wednesday, August 12, 2015
I Have Malla Nunn Covered!
You know, I'm glad I decided to do this series of posts. You wouldn't believe how many interesting conversations I've been having via email! Anything from opinions on the book covers, book size, the publishing trend of moving away from mass market paperbacks, to disgust over the sharks who are supposedly caring for Harper Lee. Sometimes it's rather difficult for me to believe that there are lots of folks out there who think books are boring.
Since I'm sharing a very short review of this Malla Nunn mystery set in South Africa during apartheid later on this evening, I thought we could take a look at the covers of its US and UK editions. Let me get a hold of it first....
The US Cover---
I like the colors on the US cover, and it certainly deals with only the bare bones when it comes to information. No harking back to the excellent first book in the series, A Beautiful Place to Die. No mention that it's part of the Emmanuel Cooper series. Just title, author, and the ubiquitous "a novel."
The background of the cover is... atmospheric? symbolic? It looks as though the sun has almost set on a city. We can see the lights. Whether or not that city is on the shores of a sea is anyone's guess (the book does take place in the port city of Durban), but it does seem to be riven by fissures. It reminds me of photographs I've seen of cooling lava in Hawaii. A man stands alone at the top, right where the city and the fissures meet, and that has to be mixed-race detective Emmanuel Cooper-- one foot in each camp. City. Fissures. Molten lava. Apartheid. See what I mean by atmospheric and symbolic?
The UK Cover---
As a person who prefers realism over symbolism in my art, the cover of the UK edition of Let the Dead Lie appeals to me. Once again, very minimalist in the information it imparts: author, title, "A Detective Emmanuel Cooper Thriller." A desert scene with a rusted-out wreck of an old car (roughly of the era in which the book takes place) partially buried in the sand.
Although this cover appeals to my artistic "sensibilities," I don't really care for it. It doesn't say "South Africa" to me. The scene could just as easily be somewhere here in southern Arizona. Besides, the book takes place in the port city of Durban, not out in the desert. Totally generic.
If I were forced to choose one of these covers, I would choose the US edition. Mainly for the colors because if I were browsing in a bookstore and walked past, any symbolism that the cover may be trying to impart would go sailing right over my head.
Truth be told, neither cover really does all that much for me.
What say all of you? Which cover do you prefer? US? UK? Or-- like me-- are you unmoved by either one? Inquiring minds would love to know!