JAPANESE EDITION OF HEBRIDEAN MEMOIR
“COCOA AND CRABS “
Readers in Japan can now experience a Hebridean childhood, following the translation of Flora MacDonald’s memoir “Cocoa and Crabs” (Coco is Crubagan: A Hebridean Childhood) which was initially published by the Islands Book Trust in 2009.
The following year it came third in the national Tesco Bank Summer Read competition, being pipped to the post by Frankie Boyle and Ian Rankin.
While enjoying a break in North Uist in 2010, the Japanese artist, illustrator and translator Machiko Terada Schlumpf stayed at Flora’s bed and breakfast and purchased a copy of “Cocoa and Crabs”, prompting her to translate the work.
She has also created illustrations for the Japanese translation and these were featured in an art exhibition in Basel, Switzerland, where Machiko lives, in November.
The illustrations depict family life in Benbecula in the 1940s, with images of Flora collecting seagull eggs with her father, the interior of Curstaidh’s house and the wedding of Mairi Rossinish.
West Highland Free Press, Isle of skye 27. December 2013
A book describing growing up in Uist has caught the imagination of a Japanese illustrator and has been published thousands of miles away.
‘Cocoa and Crabs’ is the childhood story of Flora MacDonald and recounts life growing up on Benbecula in the 40s. After finding success at home following publication by the Island Book Trust the memoir has now brought the island way of life to a new audience.
The unique collaboration came about when Machiko Terada Schlumpf, from Japan, stayed in Flora’s Bed and Breakfast in Uist.
Flora explained: “Machiko, who bought the book at my B&B, must have been inspired to paint the images from the writing. She probably found similarities with her own island Japan at least through the fishing. It was certainly a great surprise to hear about her proposal.
“I have not been to Japan but I can imagine that there are similarities with Uist. World cultures are similar.”
Flora, who has since publishing ‘Cocoa and Crabs’ has subsequently gone on to record the rest of her life story, wrote the book as a tribute to her parents.
After leaving the islands ages 18, she studied and worked in Glasgow until returning to Benbecula 12 years ago. “The love of the place, my roots, called me back,” she said.
The book was also published and recorded in Gaelic, something that was particularly significant for the author. “I wrote the Gaelic version when I returned to Uist and felt a great affinity to my father and his forebears,” Flora said. “I wanted it to be published in Gaelic and the publishers also wanted the story in Gaelic. I recorded two accompanying CD’s in Gaelic for the benefit of my generation who could not read or write their own language.”
The journey didn’t end there though. After being published in Japan the illustrations were flown to Basle in Switzerland to featured in an art exhibition.
There may be more travelling in store for the memoir as Flora is keen to see it published in other countries, particularly Canada, America and Australia where there are many Gaelic learners.
FIGARO JAPON 10月号（2013年8月20日発売）