Galley Pages Arrive! But I’m Unsure About the Title.

Galley Pages

The galley pages arrived today at our new house in Yokohama, where we moved a month ago.

It’s so exciting to see them! But it now brings up a twist on an issue I’ve been struggling with: the title. I was thinking that we should change the title to the book before it actually comes out and hits bookstores. The Good Shufu seems a little too obscure to me sometimes, like, who the hell knows what a shufu is unless they’ve lived in Japan? My editor at Putnam likes the existing title but isn’t opposed to changing it, either. My agent and I are thinking of The Japanese Housewife, because then, with my name (which is obviously not Japanese, since I didn’t take the shogun’s name when I married him) on the cover, there will still be some sense of mystery, like how does someone named Tracy Slater become a Japanese Housewife? (which in a sense is the subtext of the whole book, anyway). Then the shogun–with his Japanese sensibility of prizing literalness and exactness above all else–weighed in, pointing out that calling me a Japanese housewife is technically not correct, since I’m not Japanese. I countered with the fact that our house is Japanese, and that part of the significance of the term housewife is that it’s sort of like being married to the actual house. But then I had the idea of using The Japan Housewife, sort of like a twist on the book title The Paris Wife.

But now that I see the actual galley pages as Putnam has designed them, I’m back to kind of liking The Good Shufu again. Maybe because the galley pages actually make the book seem real after all this time, so I’m feeling attached to them exactly as they are.

Anyone have any thoughts, ideas, or title preferences?

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38 thoughts on “Galley Pages Arrive! But I’m Unsure About the Title.

  1. Gosh, I still really love The Good Shufu! I think you’d still get the same effect with people wondering how someone named Tracy Slater could become a shufu. It doesn’t matter if they don’t know the meaning of shufu–reading the book will enlighten them! But they will want to know how you could become this foreign concept and that will make them pick up the book. The Japanese Housewife would accomplish the same thing, but with less mystery. So my vote is for The Good Shufu! One more thing: you could add a subtitle that would more or less let the reader know the meaning of shufu.

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    1. Thanks, Susan. I actually had a subtitle on the original manuscript: A Wife in Search of a Life Between East & West. Not sure if Putnam left it off the galley pages b/c they didn’t like it or because we’ve already discussed that the whole title might change.

      One nice thing about The Good Shufu is then it can be shelved next to your book since our titles would be similar!

      Appreciate your input, as always!

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  2. I like the title. What about a subtitle? “The Good Shufu: An American Woman’s Search for Validation in Japan” or “The Good Shufu: A Tale of Impossible Love” or “The Good Shufu: One Loud American Perspective on the Perfect Japanese Wife” or “The Good Shufu: Tale a of a Jewish American Princess in Japan”? But, then again I am like your shogun in that I too value literalness and clarity above all else. Furthermore, Kim points out, that a subtitle takes away a bit of the mystery. I still like The Good Shufu. Are you sorry you asked?

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    1. These are great, Emily: “The Good Shufu: One Loud American Perspective on the Perfect Japanese Wife” or “The Good Shufu: Tale a of a Jewish American Princess in Japan.” Totally made me laugh. Tx!

      As I wrote to Susan above, I had a subtitle but not sure what Putnam wants to do about it. We’ll see! Thanks again for weighing in.

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      1. You’re very sweet, Lauren! Excited for yours too if you ever decide to write one. India seems like it must be a fascinating but challenging place to live (ort of like Japan is, but for different reasons I imagine).

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  3. I like the Good Shufu too! It’s more appealing to me than the Japanese Housewife because you kind of translate the term for me. And I wonder what it means to be a good Shufu too!

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    1. Thanks, Louise. (By the way, is this my Louise from Boston? If so, then since you named Four Stories for me — which I mention in the book, by the way — I guess I should definitely listen to you about the memoir!) I actually define Shufu in the first few pages of the book, and I was thinking the other day that if I changed the title then I might have to take out that passage b/c the definition might seem random so early in the story. So many little pieces to think about!

      Thanks so much for your input though; I appreciate it!

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    1. Thanks, Jocelyn. I’m surprised by how many people are voting for that, too! Maybe my first instinct wasn’t so off… When you publish your memoir, if you include the essay from the Dragonfruit anthology that just came out, you’ll have to title it something like “The Good Chinese Daughter-in-Law”!

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  4. I’m not a good judge because I’m Japanese, but I like the Good Shufu. It has a better ring to it than the Japanese Housewife. Plus, you will have a subtitle that gives a bit more info. on who you are, won’t you?
    BTW, welcome to my hometown! Hope you like it here (I happen to be in town, visiting from the US.) If we (me-Japanese, wife-American, and two binational/biracial kids born in New England) end up moving here (I just applied for a job here), we may contact you personally!

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    1. Thanks, Tama! Definitely contact me if you end up moving here! We are actually in Yokohama now, though. The shogun got transferred for his job. It was quite a challenge moving with a 3-month old, but here we are. Are you from Osaka or Yokohama? Either way, thanks for stopping by, and hope to meet in person someday!

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      1. Ah, sorry for being unclear. I am currently visiting Yokohama, where I am originally from. I have lived in the States for the past 20 years, including 2 in Conn (Hartford) and 2 in Mass (Worcester).
        I feel your pain about moving with a baby–We moved from Hartford to Worcester when our first-born was 11-month old. We’ll see if we end up living in Yokohama next year or so; my wife is incredibly good with babies (so am I, I would like to think :-)), so if the move indeed happened, you would have a pretty good (American and bilingual) babysitting couple nearby! Ha!

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      2. Hi Tama. Would love to meet you and your wife if you do end up moving back to Yokohama! Is she American, or did you just move there for work or some other reason? Hope you are enjoying your visit back right now and not minding the rain too much! Looking forward to keeping in touch through the blog.

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    1. Thanks, Amanda.I guess if my first instinct was right about the shogun, chances are it’s right about the book! And if this is my Amanda from Boston, check your Skype. I just messaged you about our plans this summer in the hopes of seeing you when I get home!

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  5. Hi, found your blog recently and decided to chime in on the title… ^^; Ojamashimasu~

    I prefer The Good Shufu for two reasons. 1) It definitely perks up the receptors for those who don’t know what it means, and for those it does, it makes you wonder a bit more about what that entails… 2) The Japanese Housewife sounds more like a romance novel, or someone telling the story looking in from outside (which in some ways is true, I guess), but since it’s a memoir of your own, that doesn’t feel quite right.

    Just my two cents (or yen), but either way I look very much forward to reading it once it’s out!

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    1. Thanks, Ri, both for your comment and for checking out the blog. And I really appreciate your explanation! You’re right that the Japanese Housewife does sound a little abstract and impersonal and therefore maybe not quite right for a memoir. Interesting point you’ve made.

      Hope when the book comes out you like it as much as you like the current title!

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  6. From one Japanese Housewife to another (actually an American married to a rather domesticated Japanese man living in Kyushu), The Good Shufu is a book I am definitely interested in reading-as is!

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    1. Thanks, Sheilaryanhara! Love that you describe your husband as “rather domesticated.” So funny! So glad you are interested in the book. Really hope you like it when it comes out. Sending you all my best from Yokohama, where the rainy season officially started today. Are you in the midst of it already in Kyushu?

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    1. Sarah, sorry for the delay replying: the mini is having major sleeping issues so I’m way behind on my emails. In any case, I think we we have an infamous colon (funny term!) but I need to wait and see what Putnam’s final decision is. Thanks for weighing in. Hope all is great w/you and your writing!

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  7. Haha, at one point I actually got Shufu confused with Shifu. Kind of interesting actually, Susan was with a Chinese guy, and you’re with a Japanese guy, and I’m kind of involved in a Korean culture, and all of us have common ancenstry.

    What of “The Good Shufu: A Jewish Woman’s Memoir from Japan”?

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    1. Svetasbooks, we are like the nice Jewish girls taking over East Asia. But I’m guessing that Putnam may not want to mention religion on the title page so as not to turn away any readers to who don’t identify with that religion. They want me to avoid the term “feminist” in the book too for the same reason. I really appreciate your suggestion and ideas, though. All my best to you!

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  8. Hi Tracy! It’s a tough call, but I think The Good Shufu is a good title, and perhaps more intriguing than the alternatives. I look forward to reading the book! I also wanted to ask you if you wanted a copy of Falling in Honey, as you expressed interest a while back. I’d be happy to send it to you now it’s out. I couldn’t find an email contact for you, so I hope you don’t mind my contacting you here…

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    1. Hi Jen. Thanks so much for getting in touch. I take it Falling is finished, so congratulations! Feel free to get in touch w/me through this contact page: http://www.fourstories.org/contact.html. If you enter a comment there it will go right to my email and we can take it from there. And thanks so much for weighing in about the title. I am feeling the same as you at this point: I think it’s an issue of there not being a better or more interesting alternative.

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  9. Who cares who knows what shufu means? It is more intriguing and I would probably pick it up just to see what it is about on that alone.

    So as your non-writer, technical friend from long ago, I like The Good Shufu without subtitle. I also love this little story with shogun. You did indeed meet your match! 🙂

    I’m excited so hurry up and decide so I can get my copy! 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Susan J! I’m so happy (indeed!) that you are excited to get a copy! The book won’t be out for another year, though, but I’ll keep everyone posted through this site. Hope all is great with you!

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