Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Review of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki from Japanese Literature Publishing and Promotion Center

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On Haruki Murakami’s New Novel: Liszt’s “Years of Pilgrimage” Turned Extravaganza

It’s not unusual for the title of a Haruki Murakami work to refer to a piece of music. “Norwegian Wood,” for example, or “South of the Border, West of the Sun.” Even when the title makes no such overt reference, music may be featured memorably in the narrative itself, as with Leoš Janáček’s Sinfonietta in Murakami’s previous novel, 1Q84.
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, his latest novel released on April 12, 2013, contains the following passage:
“As they’re listening to a piano recording, Tsukuru realizes he’s heard it a number of times before. He doesn’t know the title. Nor who the composer is. It’s a quiet, mournful piece. A leisurely opening theme of strong single notes. Then a softer variation. He looks up from his book and asks Haida, ‘What’s this music?’” (p. 62)
Tsukuru Tazaki’s friend Haida identifies it as “La Mal du Pays” from the first of Franz Liszt’s three suites known collectively as Years of Pilgrimage, played by the pianist Lazar Berman.
As a key part of its marketing strategy, Bungeishunju successfully maintained a strict veil of secrecy about the content of the story. The first newspaper ad for the book, which appeared on February 16, stated only that a new novel by Haruki Murakami would be released in April—without even naming the title. The title was subsequently revealed, along with a few quotes from an author interview, but otherwise everything about the book was kept under wraps, including its cover design. Following the example of Shinchosha with 1Q84, no bound galleys were sent out, nor were any book signings scheduled. As I write this on April 18, the full text of the author interview has yet to be released, nor have there been any articles or video footage about it in the media.
The obi band wrapped around the cover of the book offers the following quotation “from an interview with the author”:
“On something of an impulse one day, I sat down at my desk and wrote the first few lines of the story, not knowing what might develop, what kind of characters would appear, or how long it might become—basically not knowing anything about where the story would lead—and then I just kept on writing for the next six months. All I really understood at first was what the world looked like, from his limited perspective, to this one man named Tsukuru Tazaki. But it was fascinating to see that view change bit by bit from one day to the next, growing both deeper and broader, and in some senses it really touched my heart.”
“Since 1Q84 was such a roller-coaster of a story,” notes Murakami in a quote on the Bungeishuju website, “I wanted to write something that would be rather different from that.” Indeed, the structure of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, as well as its narrative style, contrast sharply with 1Q84, offering a more intimate feeling that seems reminiscent of Norwegian Wood and Sputnik Sweetheart. We still encounter the erotic dreams, parallel worlds, dwarfs and such that are familiar from Murakami’s previous works, of course, even if what they signify is different. I would view the perfectly harmonious blend of mystery and fantasy that Murakami achieves here as a mark of his further maturation as an author.
Shikisai o motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to, kare no junrei no toshi (Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage) by Haruki Murakami Bungeishunju, 2013, 370 pp., ISBN 978-4163821108
Saku Masui (1967–) was born in Kobe and graduated from Kyoto University. In 1991 he joined The Nikkei, Japan’s leading economic daily, where he reported on business and stock market developments for a time before transferring to the cultural pages to take charge of book reviews and editorial duty for the serialized novels published in the paper. He left in 2004 to work for a publisher, and has since gone independent as a freelance writer and editor. He also teaches creative writing classes.
To read the whole review go to:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Is Tsukuru Tazaki just another South of the Border?

... asks Frederike at, an online German magazine published a story comparing the latest Murakami novel to his 1992 South of the Border, West of the Sun.  The author found a great similarity between the two protagonists: Tsukuru and Hajime.


Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki – eine Kopie von Südlich der Grenze…?
Seit über einem Monat bin ich nun schon dabei, den neuesten Roman von Murakami im japanischen Original zu lesen. Mein Eindruck bis Seite 100 ist der, dass der Roman eine neue Version von Südlich der Grenze, westlich der Sonne ist.
Achtung: Der Artikel enthält massive Spoiler. Wer sich die Spannung nicht nehmen will, sollte diesen Artikel nicht lesen!
Tsukuru Tazaki trägt einen Komplex in sich: fast alle Menschen, die ihm begegnen, haben in ihren Namen Farben als Bestandteile, nur Tsukurus Name bleibt “farblos”. Zu Beginn seines Studiums macht er die Erfahrung, von seinen Freunden ohne die Nennung eines Grundes aus der Clique ausgeschlossen zu werden – sie alle haben wieder Farbennamen. Er hatte sich von anfang an bei ihnen nie sicher gefühlt, da er als einziger keinen “Farbnanmen hatte”. Seit dieser Erfahrung schottet sich Tsukuru ab und lebt alleine – bis er wieder auf einen Mann mit einer Farbe im Namen trifft.
Eine ähnliche Thematik kennen wir auch aus Südlich der Grenze, westlich der Sonne. Auch der Protagonist Hajime hat einen Komplex, der ihm schon seit der Grundschulzeit das Gefühl gibt, nicht dazuzugehören: Er fühlt sich als einziges Einzelkind anders als alle anderen.
Die Parallele wird vielleicht auch so deutlich, weil beide Romane diese Thematik ähnlich entwickeln: Aus einer zukünftigen Perspektive wird die Lebens- und Entwicklungsgeschichte des Protagonisten von hinten aufgerollt.
Read more here:

How Good is Murakami? – asks The Daily Beast

How Good Is Murakami?

He is one of the biggest-selling literary novelists in the world, and practically a deity in Japan. But American critics are still unsure about him, and often find his books strange and chaotic without explanation. Rob Verger looks at his reputation in the United States.

In a scene in Haruki Murakami’s novel, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, a man descends into a dry well to do some thinking. He has a lot on his mind. His cat has disappeared. So has his wife. To make matters worse, a malevolent teenage girl has pulled up the rope ladder he used to get down the well, stranding him there in the dark. The man tells the girl, who is listening from ground level, about how he and his wife had tried to start a new life together and reinvent themselves, “like building a new house on an empty lot.” The girl tells him that’s impossible. “You might think you made a new world or a new self, but your old self is always gonna be there, just below the surface, and if something happens, it’ll stick its head out and say ‘Hi.’”

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
‘The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel’ by Haruki Murakami. 607 p. Vintage. $12.85. (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group/AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

As readers of Murakami know, his books are filled with stuff like this. For novelist Jonathan Franzen, it’s moments like these that gave him an emotional response. “My experience at mid-life is that I have this busy modern life,” Franzen said. “And only at night, and when reading certain books, do I fall down into a tunnel that takes me back to a more enchanted place.” The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is one of those books for him. “While you’re reading it, everything in the world feels different,” he said. “And that for me is the mark of a great novel … I think it’s one of the great novels that’s appeared anywhere in the world in the last 30 to 40 years.”

In Japan, the release of Murakami’s new novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, has been met with a kind of mania. It became the fastest-selling book ever on Amazon Japan. It will hit American shores next year, and Philip Gabriel, who has translated several of Murakami’s works, confirmed to me that he will be translating the new novel; he’ll be the sole translator and won’t be splitting the duties with Jay Rubin, as another reporthas suggested. In the U.S., there are close to half a million copies in print of Murakami's most recent novel to be translated into English, 1Q84, according to the publisher.

But popularity aside, Murakami hasn’t been universally praised. The New York Times has been particularly mixed about his books and was soundly critical of Murakami’s magnum opus, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. “In trying to depict a fragmented, chaotic, and ultimately unknowable world, Murakami has written a fragmentary and chaotic book,” critic Michiko Kakutani wrote in 1997. More recently, the Times’ other critic, Janet Maslin, panned 1Q84, dismissing it as “stupefying” and criticizing the author for leaving questions unanswered and for quirks like focusing too much on a few characters’ breasts. And what’s going on with the “Little People” in the book? They, Maslin wrote, “are supposed to be very wise, even though the smartest thing they ever say is “Ho ho.” These are fair criticisms.

“Is he the best sentence-by-sentence writer? No,” the novelist Nathaniel Rich said. He thinks Murakami is prone to writing awkward and clichéd sentences, but he loves his work regardless. “I think he’s creating something that’s new, and that doesn’t exist in the world. I think it’s an artistic endeavor. I think he’s creating art.” What he is, Rich said, is an excellent storyteller.

“Sometimes it doesn’t all add up,” the novelist Charles ...

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Dutch publisher joins the group

Just one day after announcing that the rights to the Polish translation have been sold to Muza SA Murakami's London agency Curtis Brown announced that the rights for the Dutch translation went to
Uitgeverij Atlas.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Polish publisher added to the list of translation rights holders

Today, Polish publisher, MUZA SA was added to list of publishers who have purchased the rights for translations of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki. The list can be found on Curtis Brown page:

Monday, June 17, 2013

Translation rights already sold to eleven publishers

 Curtis Brown, Haruki Murakami's European agent, reports on their webpage that only a little over two months after the publication of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki translation rights have already been sold to eleven publishers for nine language versions (it looks like there will be an American, Canadian and British English version).

Ediciones Empuries
UK & Comm
Harvill Secker
Editions Belfond
Dumont Buchverlag
Geopen Konyvkiado Kft.
Editura Polirom
Geopoetika Publishing House
Tusquets Editores