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Nick Ward: ‘It’s just as hard to live outside Yorkshire as it is inside of Yorkshire’

by Elliott Samuels

Staff Writer

Name: Nick Ward
Age: 50
Nationality: British
Occupation: Book seller, jack-of-all-trades
Likes: Music, scuba diving, having a good drink with friends
Dislikes: People asking long-drawn out questions, trivia


1. What book brought you to Japan? A book by (Australian-born novelist) James Clavell called “Gai-Jin” (1993). After reading that book and arriving in Japan 15 years later, I discovered it has no relation to Japan whatsoever.

2. What book is keeping you here? Not one but many. This entire bookshop and my fascination with books is keeping me here. If it weren’t for these books, I’d be sitting on a beach with a cocktail in my hand.

3. Which Japanese author do you most admire? That’s a difficult question. I have a love-hate relationship with (Haruki) Murakami. I think his prose is really beautiful but he gives me vivid nightmares.

4. How would you describe a book to someone who’s never seen one before? Lots of glue, lots of paper and the second-best smell in the world.

5. What is your favorite children’s book? “The Dark Is Rising” by Susan Cooper.

6. What was the first book you studied in school? What did you learn from it? That means I would have had to have gone to school, right? “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck. It taught me that it’s just as hard outside of Yorkshire as it is inside of Yorkshire.

7. Who is your favorite character in a book? David Lurie (a South African professor of English who loses everything) in J.M. Coetzee’s “Disgrace.”

8. If you were a novel, what kind of illustration would you have on your cover? A book within a book within a country. Abstract with general what-we-see-now images interwoven.

9. Why do all books have an even number of pages? Are we talking numerical or the size of the pages?

10. Which book best describes your work ethic? “Don’t Swear At Me.”

11. What book would you bring to a bar fight? “Barfly” (a semi-autobiographical screenplay by Charles Bukowski).

12. What’s the most outrageous thing you have ever done? I left England.

13. What’s the strangest request you’ve ever been asked in your line of work? “I once had a book that was blue. Do you know it?”

14. How would you get an elephant into a refrigerator? Vaseline minus the sand.

15. Name three uses of a stapler without staples. An ornament on the front of a car, held down with superglue.

16. What do you think about while standing on the train? What book can I read standing up?

17. How would you find a needle in a haystack? Push the woman out.

18. Who would win a fight between a lion and tiger? Is the lion male or female?

19. What do you want to be when you grow up? Lighter.

20. Do you have any words of advice for young people? Lighten up.

Infinity Books & Cafe in Tokyo’s Asakusa district holds regular events such as open mic nights, book readings, workshops, networking and more. For more details, visit www.infinitybooksjapan.com.