Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Book Explaining "How to Read" Tsukuru Tazaki

A collection of 29 essays titled  村上春樹『色彩を持たない多崎つくると、彼の巡礼の年』をどう読むか (How to Read Haruki Murakami's Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage) was published by Kawade Shobo in June, only two months after the novel's release.  One of the authors is Norihiro Kato, who has written a lot about Murakami (c.f. Murakami Haruki Yellow Pages), and who recently became a regular op-ed contributor for the New York Times. The band on the cover promises that the book will help the readers figure out whether the novel is a journey in search of oneself or an attempt to bury the past. 
I am always amazed at how quickly Japanese publishers manage to produce such collections!

Here is a link to the book on

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

More Comments from Ming Chu Lai about the Taiwanese Translation

As any reader of Haruki Murakami's work will know, his book titles are always different and unique.  For example 1Q84 is very short, but Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is very long.
The word "Colorless" reminds me of the writer’s strong will from the very beginning. He clearly intends to create his own style, and his own color.  In his maiden work, "Hear the Wind Sing," Murakami even drew a T-shirt in the text.  It stands out from the text and is very attractive. His books are so unique. I enjoy translating his works. 
The "Tsukuru" つくる in the name Tsukuru Tazaki 多崎つくる can be translated many possible ways in Chinese [using different characters that correspond to the kanji used in Japanese for this sound]:  創、作、造.  At first, some newspapers used 多崎造But after reading the book, I realized that 多崎作 is the right choice.
As for the names of Tsukuru’s friends -- Ao, Aka, Shiro, and Kuro -- we have many choices.  In Japanese, Ao, Aka, Shiro, and Kuro correspond to 青、赤、白、黒; in Chinese these characters mean the same thing, the same colors, but it’s more popular to use 、and 黑 instead.  But for a person's name, in Chinese it’s better to add a word like  or 小 or 老 or 仔 for a boy, and 阿 or 妞 for a girl.  So I chose 藍仔,紅仔,白妞,黑妞, which sound like nicknames for good friends.  For cowboys we say 牛仔, and the nickname for movie star 劉德華 [Andy Lau] is 華仔.

[In relation to this blog's post of July 19th titled "Struggling with Suddenly"] 
The Japanese words meaning “suddenly,” which Mr. Edward Seidensticker mentioned, reminded me of the Chinese words meaning “suddenly.”  We have many words in common. For example, we also use 突然、 忽然、 俄然、驀地、驟然、唐突 in the same way as in Japanese. But sometimes the same characters have different meaning in Chinese and Japanese. We must be very careful in choosing words. For example, for “suddenly,” in everyday conversation we might choose 突然 or 忽然. But in literary writing, we might chose 突如其來 or 冷不防. If the writing was by an older person or in ancient times, we might chose 俄然 or 驀地.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Tsukuru Tazaki "Maybe the Best Book [Murakami] Has Written Since Norwegian Wood"

Néojaponisme is a site on things Japanese written by W. David Marx and Matt Treyvaud and designed by Ian Lynam. As some readers may know, Matt Teyvaud is a writer and translator living in Japan and the author of No-sword (, a blog on Japanese language and culture where he posts some of his excellent translations.

On October 4 Néojaponisme published a review of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki by David Morales. The art illustrating the review is perhaps a bit surprising given the contents of the novel, but the interview is very positive.

Here is a fragment:

Murakami Haruki’s most recent novel might be the best book he’s written sinceNorwegian Wood made him a household name in 1987. Published in April,Colorless Tazaki Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimage (『色彩を持たない多崎つくると、彼の巡礼の年』) was an instant best seller, quickly selling out and moving a million copies in just a week.
Unlike the massive tomes that have come to characterize his writing in the years since Norwegian Wood (1988’s Dance Dance Dance, 1994’s Wind-up Bird Chronicle, 2002’s Kafka on the Shore, and 2009’s 1Q84), Murakami’s latest outing is a mere 370 pages in the Japanese. The story also eschews complex metaphysical adventures for a more realistic setting. The work conveys the intense emotional landscape of protagonist Tazaki Tsukuru, a Nagoya-born Millenial whose given name — homophonous with a word meaning “to build” or “to construct” — corresponds nicely with his work as a train station designer.

To read the whole review go to:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Some Comments from the Taiwanese Translator

MIng Chu Lai, the Taiwanese translator of Tsukuru Tazaki writes:

Here, in Taiwan, the new book’s cover looks like the Japanese version.  The Chinese translation - Taiwan (traditional characters) version - of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, went on sale on October 1st. The book became the top seller from the first week.
On the platform of the subway station near SOGO department store, the big poster advertising the new book surprised passengers. Since railroad stations play an important role in this novel, it’s also a good place to show the news of the book release.

big poster at a subway station in Taipei

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mainland China Translation of Tsukuru Tazaki Released

The Mainland Chinese translation of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki has just been released. The translator is  施小炜 Shi Xiaowei (I am pleased to note that his name is on the cover!), and the publisher is
Nanhai (南海出版公司).

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tsukuru Tazaki Released in Poland

The Polish version of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki officially went on sale today. Lines formed last night in front of the three Tsukuru vending machines offering the novel one day earlier, but it seems that there were some glitches in their operation, which organizers are trying to solve. The first buyers were also given colorful Murakami badges.

And here is a short clip showing the Warsaw Central Station Tsukuru vending machine and the first happy buyers:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Polish Translation Goes on Sale Today at 5pm

As announced before, the Polish translation of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, titled Bezbarwny Tsukuru Tazaki i lata jego pielgrzymstwa, officially goes on sale today at 5 pm. Readers will be able to buy the book from vending machines located at train stations in three major cities, which is meant to reflect Tsukuru's passion for trains and train stations. 
In spite of the marketing efforts to built up excitement in this way, I discovered on the the Polish Murakami Facebook page that some bookstores have already begun selling the novel. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Romanian Cover, Italian and Norwegian Translation Rights

A Romanian cover of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki appeared on the website of Curtis Brown Agency, the agent representing Murakami in Europe.  The publisher is Editura Polirom, but there is no announcement of the publication date yet on their website.
Also, Italian publisher Einaudi Editore and Norwegian publisher Pax are now listed among the holders of translation rights. I assume Ika Kaminka will be working on the Norwegian version, but I don't know who the Italian translator will be.