This blog is meant as an open forum where translators of Haruki Murakami can share ideas and discuss solutions to problems encountered in the process of translating his works. It was launched by two translators of Murakami into Norwegian and Polish, Ika Kaminka and Anna Zielinska-Elliott. Some of us have collaborated in the past, and many of us are in touch regularly by e-mail, but the publication of the new novel in 2013 served as a catalyst for the creation of an online translation blog.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
When it comes to publishing Haruki Murakami in English, nothing is lost in translation May 15, 2013 By MARIKO NAKAMURA/ Staff Writer
Best-selling author Haruki Murakami's latest novel is already a blockbuster in Japan. Once it is translated in English, it is bound to take the world by storm.
In that sense, Murakami, who is 64 and considered among the world's greatest contemporary novelists, owes much of his international popularity to his loyal team of translators.
Murakami has used English-language translators Philip Gabriel and Jay Rubin for a number of his full-length novels.
The two scholars shared their thoughts with The Asahi Shimbun about the difficulties of bringing Murakami's "world" to a global audience.
Gabriel, a professor of Japanese literature at the University of Arizona, is now translating Murakami's latest best-seller, "Shikisai o Motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to, Kare no Junrei no Toshi" (Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage).
The novel, which has sold more than 1 million copies since its release in April, is Murakami's first in three years. Gabriel and Rubin shared translation work on his previous "1Q84" trilogy.
Gabriel said Murakami approached him late last year about translating the work.
He plans to complete the translation by the year-end, with publication expected in 2014.
"It is a very realistic book, like 'Norwegian Wood'," Gabriel said in an e-mail interview. "To me, it seems more serious, even somber, compared to some of his other novels, but one ultimately that is hopeful."
The protagonist, Tsukuru Tazaki, has four close friends, whose family names represent different colors, including "Akamatsu" (red pine).
Asked what problems he encounters in translating names in Japanese kanji characters, Gabriel acknowledged that it is "a difficult aspect of the translation."