Todd Shimoda   The Fourth Treasure  
Todd Shimoda  
Read an essay by Todd Shimoda

Read an Excerpt from The Fourth Treasure


It is the very rare novel that can manage defy the basic physical conventions of the form—a book-length narrative told through a series of single-column pages of text—without feeling gimmicky, that can manage to use illustrations and design to enhance the reading experience. And it's the very rare author whose brain is big enough and fingers dexterous enough to pull off such a project without letting down one of the ends.

In The Fourth Treasure the stakes are even higher because the novel brings together two wildly different subjects—cutting edge neuroscience and Japanese calligraphy—while still telling an engaging and suspenseful, highly readable story.

In the case of this book, it is two people, husband and wife, who rise to these challenges: Todd, the writer, who has won awards and wide praise for his fiction, and is also a professor with a UC Berkeley Ph.D. in Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence (clearly, the brain is big enough); and Linda, the illustrator, an artist who has studied calligraphy in Japan (she's the fingers of the operation). Together, they have created a novel that is as full of complex characters and real suspense and romance as it is of beautiful artwork and multi-layered erudition.

In this issue of Bold Type, Todd discusses how he manages to pursue the all-important "feeling of a novel" while folding in so much more material. And Linda provides illustrations that accompany Todd's essay. Plus, there is an excerpt which begins to hint at all that The Fourth Treasure holds; if you need more, check out

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  Photo credit: Mary Staley Pridgen

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