Episode # 31

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding
A Novel

Jackie Copleton

In the tradition of Memoirs of a Geisha and The Piano Teacher, a heartwrenching debut novel set against the 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki, rich with intimate betrayals, family secrets, and a shocking love affair.
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On Sale Date:


Penguin Books
Trade Paperback
288 pgs.
PPBK Original


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A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding

When Amaterasu Takahashi opens the door of her Philadelphia home to a badly scarred man claiming to be her grandson, she doesn’t believe him. Her grandson and her daughter, Yuko, perished nearly forty years ago during the bombing of Nagasaki. But the man carries with him a collection of sealed private letters that open a Pandora’s Box of family secrets Ama had sworn to leave behind when she fled Japan. She is forced to confront her memories of the years before the war: of the daughter she tried too hard to protect and the love affair that would drive them apart, and even further back, to the long, sake-pouring nights at a hostess bar where Ama first learned that a soft heart was a dangerous thing. Will Ama allow herself to believe in a miracle?

Praise for A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding

“Lovely… At once intimate and sweeping, profoundly subtle and yet remarkably affecting, the story reminds the reader that public catastrophe interrupts myriad smaller, but no less devastating, private troubles, magnifying their consequences and obstructing their resolution. This is a mesmerizing, heart-wrenching story of love and regret, but ultimately, and most assuredly, the healing generosity of hope. I couldn’t put it down. I read the end on an airplane, and had to hide my tears from the other passengers.”
Robin Oliveira, New York Times bestselling author of My Name Is Mary Sutter.

“Like Snow Falling on Cedars and The Reader, here is one of those rare life opportunities to look again at ourselves, and forgive, achieved with striking style, an unflinching eye and through a clever narrative. Brava Jackie Copleton. I cannot wait to read your next novel.”
Mary-Rose Maccoll, author of In Falling Snow.

“An absolute must. Gripping from the first page, you’ll not want to put it down…this is a superb literary launch.”
Marie Claire (UK) “Books To Look Forward To In 2015”

Jacqueline Copleton graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in English before she moved to Japan to teach in English language schools in Nagasaki and Sapporo. She has worked as a journalist in the UK and the Middle East and holds an MLitt (Distinction) in Creative Writing from Glasgow University, where she was the joint winner of the 2011 Curtis Brown prize for best fiction writing. She lives in Newcastle with her husband, a sports journalist.