Author Talk and Book Signing

Author Talk and Book Signing


October 7, 2017

2:00 PM-3:30 PM

Michael Conforti Pavilion

Berkshires author John J. Healey introduces his new novel, The Samurai of Seville. Revealing one of history’s most intriguing forgotten chapters—the arrival of Japanese Samurai in Spain in 1614—Healey weaves a rich tale of dueling cultures as warriors clash with Renaissance sensibilities. Joining the author are Williams College Professor of History Eiko Maruko Siniawer, who discusses Samurai culture of seventeenth-century Japan, and Williams College Professor of Romance Languages Soledad Fox Maura, who relates the novel to her expertise in comparative literature. A book signing follows the talk.

The Samurai of Seville
In 1614, twenty-two Samurai warriors and a group of tradesmen from Japan sailed to Spain where they initiated one of the most intriguing cultural exchanges in history. They were received with pomp and circumstance, first by King Philip III and later by Pope Paul V. They were the first Japanese to visit Europe and caused a sensation. They remained for two years and then most of the party returned to Japan; however, six of the Samurai stayed behind, settling in a small fishing village close to Sanlúcar de Barrameda, where their descendants live to this day.

Healey imbues this tale of East meeting West with uncommon emotional and intellectual intensity, and a rich sense of place. He explores the dueling mentalities of the two cultures through a singular love story that blossoms between a sophisticated, restrained, warrior of Japan and the baroque sensibilities of a Catholic, Renaissance Spain noblewoman.

The story is a timeless one about the discoveries and conflicts that arise from the forging of relationships across borders, geographical and cultural.

John J. Healey was born in New York City. Growing up in the Bronx, Manhattan, Southampton (Long Island), and Andalusia, he currently lives between Spain and the Berkshires. He directed two documentary films: Federico García Lorca and The Practice of the Wild. He studied medicine in Granada, Spain and worked in the motion picture business for fifteen years. His first novel, Emily & Herman, was published by Arcade in 2013. His new novel, The Samurai of Seville, was published in Spain in April 2016 by Esfera de los Libros and has just been published in the United States and Canada by Arcade. In the coming months it will be released in Germany, Holland, and Macedonia. He is working on a new novel, Giacomo, about James Joyce. The Samurai of Seville is to be made into a feature film spearheaded by 20th Century Fox International Pictures.

Eiko Maruko Siniawer is a professor of history at Williams College, where she teaches a variety of courses on Japanese history. A specialist in the history of modern Japan, Siniawer is the author of Ruffians, Yakuza, Nationalists: The Violent Politics of Modern Japan, 1860-1960 about the history of ruffianism and the professionally violent. Her forthcoming book, due out next fall, examines the ideas of waste and wastefulness in postwar Japan from the mid-1940s through the present.