Story of a Book Cover


Having a book translated into foreign languages is probably the most thrilling experience for a writer, the times that make me feel most like an “author”. What a privilege, to be read by people from cultures very different from my own–always tantalizing to imagine what they think of this world I’ve created, Los Angeles in 1980, the punk era, the sensibilities and values. And the book covers too reflect the flavor and taste  of those countries.

Paint it Black began almost simultaneously in English and Dutch. Here’s the big, beautiful American hardbound.

pib hbd US.jpegPublisher, Little Brown and Co.

This cover surprised me–I assumed it would be BLACK!. In the UK Virago published it in two smaller formats–the tiny mass market one is adorable.

The Dutch version is also a stunner– Portret in Zwart. Such a cool title too. Almost wish I’d thought of it.  The Dutch publisher, De Bezije Bij, is a venerable and interesting house, founded during the resistance in occupied Holland.

pib dutch portret in zwart.jpeg

Many of the foreign editions used the white cover.  Here, the German hardbound version flips the image to the left and uses a green spine is –publisher, Lubbe Bastei.

pib german.jpeg

The Italians go for modernist–the cover has  cutouts, which become the diagonal-cut flap. Publisher is Il Saggiatore, Milan.

italian pib.jpg

Sweden made this beautiful swath of black. “Saknaden”–it means “Missing.”

pib swedish.jpeg Bokförlaget Forum, publisher.

The Israelis used the leather door into the grandfather’s study for their moody book cover suggestive of the madness in that household. Publisher, Modan.

PIB israel.jpg

I love the Romanian punk cover, including the character of Ming, which features in the book.  A little reprise of the girl’s back from white Oleander…

pib romanian.jpg

The Lithuanians took it in a different direction–also the girl’s back… but a more 60s graphic look.

pib lithuanian.jpgpublisher, Versus Aureus.

The Polish Paint It Black had a flap that folded out to show the entire image. It also went blue instead of white.  Publisher, Bertelsmann, Warsaw.

pib poland.jpg

When the paperback came out in the US, I was happy when it was decided to use the art from the Dutch version, lightened and reddened, melded to the text design of the white book. The Turkish version uses the same cover.

pib pbk US.jpegBack Bay Books, publisher.

The Australian version keeps the art but turns the red type to white. pib aus.gif


What’s next?  A movie tie in cover?  Fingers crossed!


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