Thursday, October 31, 2013

More on Murakami (Vending) Machines in Poland

Buzz is building around the approaching release of the Polish translation of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki next Tuesday, November 5.  An article in the Wroclaw edition of Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest daily newspaper, carried an artist's rendition of the "Murakami Vending Machine," this one to be placed at Wroclaw Central Station:,35771,14864327.html?i=0

We are very curious ourselves... 

Friday, October 25, 2013

An Interesting Twist in the Advertising Campaign in Poland

The Polish translation of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki is to come out on November 6, but the publisher, Muza, decided to try some new advertising methods. In three cities it will be possible to buy the book on November 5, the day before the official release date, in special "Murakami Vending Machines." They will look something like this:

Since the idea plays on Tsukuru Tazaki's interest in train stations, the vending machines will be placed on the main train stations in Warsaw, Poznan, and Wroclaw. It seems like a really fun concept! Muza has also created a special "Murakami website" for his Polish fans ( offering, among other things, a free "Murakami app" for mobile phones that sends subscribers a daily Murakami quotation.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Visualizing Translation #5

Anna Zielinska-Elliott writes:

While translating Chapter 15 of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, in which Tsukuru visits his former friend at her summer house in Finland, I kept imagining the scenery described in the book. The summer house is a wooden cabin with a small porch and a brick chimney located in the woods on the bank of a large lake. There are a lot of pines and birches. Between the trees one can catch a glimpse of water; there is a small pier and a little plastic boat, which keeps knocking against it. It is slightly windy and a little cloudy. We know that it is near a town called Hämeenlinna.

Since the translator often projects his or her own experiences onto the text, I found myself imagining a house in the Polish lake region of Mazury. However, Hämeenlinna is located much further north, so perhaps the scenery is somewhat different?  I decided to Google "Hämenlinna Lake" and see what I could come up with.

Here are some images I found:

And here is a short movie showing Hämeenlinna and the surrounding area from a plane. You can see the green-roofed church, about which I wrote in August, and a beautiful castle by the lake that Olga, the Finnish travel agent, mentions to Tsukuru.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Readers on Give 5 Stars to Tsukuru Tazaki

I just happened to have a look on Amazon and discovered there three reviews of Tsukuru Tazaki. They are a few months old, but perhaps readers of this blog, like me, had not thought of looking for reviews of the novel on before.  All three readers gave the book 5 stars: one has read the book in Japanese, one in Korean, and the third one liked the cover art.

The reader who read the book in Japanese liked it very much and said that, "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki has a compelling mix of the "old" and the "new" Murakami."  Here is a longer fragment of the review:

As a longtime Murakami hand, I fell in love with his novels and short stories from the '80s and '90s, but became increasingly disillusioned as Murakami began experimenting with his style in Kafka on the Shore (which I still found mostly enjoyable), then on to After Dark (which I found completely underwhelming), and 1Q84 (which I honestly struggled to finish). To me, in these newer works, Murakami seemed tentative, off key, and honestly a bit "lost" ... failing to capture the intangible mojo that makes an outstanding Murakami novel better than the sum of its parts. As a result, I approached Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage with a bit of trepidation ... and honestly a bit of resignation--I was willing to give Murakami another shot, but if this book fell short, that might've been the last Murakami book I was willing to read.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki has a compelling mix of the "old" and the "new" Murakami. For the first time since Murakami started to alter his style, the story is told entirely from the perspective of the familiar "Boku" character ... mid-30s, lonely, detached, insecure (in this case, about whether he is "colorless"), on an unusual quest to reconcile a past trauma and lost relationships. The book is strikingly free of the "mystic realism" present in some of his iconic works such as Wind-Up Bird and Hard-Boiled Wonderland, and tells a much more "realistic" tale more similar in concept to Norwegian Wood, South of the Border, or even his debut novel, Hear the Wind Sing ... but with considerably more maturity and psychological depth, I'd argue. Unlike the "old" Murakami protagonist, however, Tsukuru is not passive ... cool, but not dispassionate. It takes some time and some prodding, but eventually he sets out to discover truths and right wrongs

To read the whole thing go to:

Shikisai Wo Motanai Tasaki Tsukuruto Kare No Zyunrei No Toshi in Japanese (1) Tankobon Hardcover

Of course, there are many reviews of the book posted on Amazon's Japanese site (  One in particular, posted in May, became quite notorious because of its humorous, slang-filled style and unabashed, straightforward criticism.  Its author -- who seems to be a young man -- found it impossible to identify with Tsukuru Tazaki and gave the book only one star. He describes reading Murakami's work in the past and finding the main character too pretentious. The same is true, he says, for Tsukuru Tazaki. At the same time, he writes about how surprised he was by the number of reviews by lonely men who really enjoyed the novel and found it encouraging.

Here is the link to the review; due to its very colloquial style it will probably have to be read in the original Japanese, since Google Translate and other similar pages will most likely not be up to the task of translating it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Spanish Translation of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki Came Out Today

The Spanish translation of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki came out today. It is titled Los años de peregrinación del chico sin color and was translated by Gabriel Alvarez Martinez. 

The publisher, Tusquets Editores, came up with another advertisement on Vimeo (so far unavailable on YouTube). This one plays with the idea of colors.

You can watch it here:

Monday, October 7, 2013

Polish Translation of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki to be Released on November 6

The Facebook page released the cover of the Polish translation of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki to be published by MUZA S.A. on November 6th.

And this is a picture of the final proofs:

More on the Dutch Translation Cover

James Westerhoven, the Dutch translator of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, tells us that the book cover featured on the publisher's page IS in fact the final version. Apparently there will be no title on the front cover. It will be placed on the back cover instead. What we find unusual about this cover (apart from the absence of the title) is also that the author's name is written both in Roman and Japanese characters.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hungarian Translation of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki (or Tazaki Cukuru) to Come Out in November

It seems that the Hungarian translation of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki will be appearing soon. The agency representing Haruki Murakami in Europe, Curtis Brown, posted an image of the book cover on the agency's page:

Also, an anonymous person posted on that the book is to be released by Geopen on November 6.
The publisher's page features a light-hearted announcement saying that Murakami's latest book "will be available in Hungarian already this fall" and two pictures of the Japanese cover, one upside down, encourage visitors to guess which is correct.

While looking on Geopen's page, we discovered that György Erdős (or Erdős György, according to the Hungarian word order), the best known Hungarian translator of Murakami, whom a number of us Murakami translators met during a conference in Tokyo in 2006, died in 2011 after a long illness. He was 66. Apparently he didn't manage to finish his translation of 1Q84, so Mónika Nagy stepped in to do Books 2 and 3.

Dr. György Erdős, born in Budapest in 1944, was a well-known Hungarian Japanologist and a promoter of cultural exchange and tourism between the two countries. Erdős not only translated a number of Murakami books, but also works by other writers, including Natsume Sōseki, Masoka Shiki and Mishima Yukio.

György Erdős, 1944-2011.

New Cover Design for the Dutch Translation

Atlas Contact, the Dutch publisher, has posted a new cover design for the Dutch version of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, but since it has no title, we expect it is not the final version yet. Or is it? The title De kleurloze Tsukuru Tazaki en zijn pelgrimsjaren, is listed above the cover. As we have written before, the book is being translated by James Westerhoven and will appear in January 2014.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki in 16 European Languages

The list of publishers from different countries who have bought translation rights for Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki keeps getting longer.  We can already look forward to 16 different European language versions. Since we have last posted, Czech, Finnish, Portuguese, Slovak and Swedish have been added to the list published by Murakami's European agent, Curtis Brown Literary and Talent Agency. 

Ediciones Empuries
Euromedia Group
Uitgeverij Atlas
UK & Comm
Harvill Secker
Editions Belfond
Dumont Buchverlag
Geopen Konyvkiado Kft.
Muza SA
Casa das Letras
Editura Polirom
Geopoetika Publishing House
Slovart spol
Tusquets Editores