Friday, May 30, 2014

Italian Translation and Italian Trailer

The Italian translation of Tsukuru Tazaki, by Antonieta Pastore, titled

L'incolore Tazaki Tsukuru e i suoi anni di pellegrinaggio

appeared on May 20th from Einaudi Editore. The cover seems to be the same as the Japanese cover. 

The publisher has also released a trailer, which plays up the colorless aspect of the main character, Tsukuru. 

The description below the clips says: 
Il nuovo romanzo di Murakami Haruki è una meditazione sulla natura della felicità, sull'amicizia e il desiderio. Sul prendere coscienza di una cosa: che iniziamo a vivere davvero soltanto quando iniziamo a morire un po'. 

[Verified by Google Translate it means: Haruki Murakami's new novel is a meditation on the nature of happiness, friendship and desire. On becoming aware of one thing: that we begin to truly live only when we begin to die a little.]

Thursday, May 22, 2014

More on Dinner with Murakami

A propos yesterday's post, this Facebook page reports that 612 people all over Poland had "dinner with Murakami" yesterday.

Here is a picture of "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki Summer Rolls":

And here are some fish falling from the sky -- clearly inspired by Kafka on the Shore:

Monday, May 19, 2014

"Dinner with Murakami" in Poland

As part of a promotional campaign for the Polish translation of the two first novels by Haruki Murakami -- known by their English titles as Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973 -- a "dinner with Murakami" will take place in almost thirty Polish towns and cities. Readers can reserve tables and opt for one of two "Murakami Set" menus. The menus were inspired by Murakami's writings and put together by Marta Gessler, a chef in the cult Warsaw restaurant, Qchnia Artystyczna.

Set 1 offers "Summer Rolls Tsukuru Tazaki," which are described as follows: "Transparent Summer Rolls in rice paper: with avocado, chicken, riced noodles and vegetables." These are said to be "Rolls colorless as Tsukuru Tazaki.  Only seemingly so." Other dishes were inspired by All God's Children Can Dance, Kafka on the Shore, and After Dark.

The Facebook page advertising the multi-city event has a list of 27 participating restaurants all over Poland and calls "dinner with Murakami" the biggest culinary/cultural event in Poland.

The new book, a single volume consisting of two short novels, will be included as a gift to all customers one day before its official release on May 21st.

The promotion team working for Murakami's Polish publisher is clearly getting quite creative:  First the book vending machines at train stations, now a "dinner with Murakami..."!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dutch Angle on Names in Tsukuru Tazaki

James Westerhoven, the Dutch translator, offered his very interesting take on names in Tsukuru Tazaki. 

The names appear in my translation as: “de Rooie” (Red — with the note that “rooie” is colloquial Dutch for “rode”), “de Blauwe” (Blue”) for the boys, en “Witje” (White) en “Zwartje” (Black) for the girls. For the girls I went with nicknames without the article “de” but with the diminutive/endearment suffix “-je.” This ending  is used to indicate that things are small, and can be used for males and females. ‘Jongen’ (young one) boy. ‘Jongetje’ small boy. But because Shiro and Kuro are girls, it seemed more natural to give them names ending in -je than names with ‘de’ (article ‘the’).

My translation of the passage quoted in Ika's post in Swedish and German is: “De twee jongens heetten Akamatsu en Ōmi — Rodeden en Blauwezee —, en de twee meisjes Shirane en Kurono — Wittewortel en Zwarteveld. Alleen de naam Tazaki — Veelpunt — had niets met kleuren te maken.” 

And a bit later in the same paragraph: “De anderen spraken elkaar meteen aan met de kleur van hun naam, alsof het de natuurlijkste zaak van de wereld was: als ‘Blauwe’ en Rooie’, ‘Witje’ en ‘Zwartje’. Alleen hij bleef gewoon Tsukuru’.”

Now this is very much a cultural thing. I went to boarding school in Holland, and every boy had a nickname. My Dutch editors never questioned the names I chose for the characters but went along immediately. However, what works great in Dutch need not necessarily work in other languages. Someone with red hair would probably be called “Ginger” or “Carrot Top” in English rather than “Red”, and I’m not certain that “Whitey” and “Blackie” would be nicknames given to girls, but in this context they might work. We’ll leave that to the English translator. All I’m saying is that I was really fortunate Dutch culture allowed me to translate these nicknames literally.

When they meet in Finland, Eri asks Tsukuru to stop calling her by her nickname. To the non-Japanese reader, “Kuro” is a neutral name, but if you translate it, it could sound almost offensive. In Japanese, Kuro also sounds like a dog’s name. In fact, I once asked Murakami if that was his intention, but he said the thought had not crossed his mind. “Zwartje” in Dutch and “Blackie” in English also can be used for dogs. No wonder Eri dislikes the name, what with all the other ballast of the past.

I tried a version with the names translated as straight colors: Red, Blue, Black, and White. It sounded horrible — in Dutch, that is. Maybe it also sounds horrible in Norwegian, and that is why Ika’s co-translator objects. But you get used to everything. I would still translate the names, as Yukiko Duke and Anna Zielinska-Elliott did.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Swedish translation out

The Swedish translation is now out – some days early? – both in paper and e-book. It has been translated by Eiko and Yukiko Duke, who have also done Norwegian WoodKafka on the Shore, The Elephant Vanishes, and several other of Murakami's books.

The publishers have decided to retain only part of the original title, and have called it Den färglöse herr Tazaki, which means "The colorless Mister Tazaki".

More on names...

Just an explanation in response to Ika's very interesting post about how to translate names in Tsukuru Tazaki. It sounds like the Swedish translator(s) did the same I did in Polish. When the names (in their full forms) appeared for the first time, I wrote them in Japanese and explained the meanings. Once the first parts of the names started being used as nicknames, I translated them into Polish. As many readers will know, many Polish last names have adjectival endings ~ski or ~ska (coming originally from place names). For that reason names of colors made into adjectives sounded very natural as nicknames. At least I think it works....

The names, the names

Already in the first chapters they are there, the names, the main character Tsukuru's friends: Akamatsu, Ōmi, Shirane and Kurono. The four colourful friends. Red pine. Blue sea. White root. Black field. But nicknamed just Aka, Ao, Shiro and Kuro – Red, Blue, White and Black. The names, and colours, play an important role in the book, all the covers designed so far, have used the colours as their theme, and the colorful characters are introduced already in the first chapter:


What to do with them in translation? In Polish and Dutch it seems they have been translated into local names. In German, the names are retained, but explained.

Allerdings hatten die anderen vier eine weitere zufällige Gemeinsamkeit, die Tsukuru Tazaki als Einziger nicht teilte. In jedem ihrer Nachnahmen kam eine Farbe vor. Die beiden Jungen hiessen Akamatsu – Rotkiefer – under Oumi – blaues Meer. Die beiden Mädchen Shirane – weisse Wurzel – und Kurono – schwarzes Feld. Nur der Name Tazaki beinhaltete keine Farbe …

Ursula Gräfe, the German translator, goes on to keep the nicknames of the four as they are: Aka, Ao, Shiro and Kuro, the standard Japanese words for the four colours in question. In Norway we are two people collaborating on the translation, and we are debating what to do.

I am inclined to use Norwegian colour words, but I am far from sure. My co-translator Magne Tørring is strongly against it. Using Norwegian names will pull the book in the direction of a fantasy novel or a childrens' story. It just seems puerile, and as such, does not suit the style of the book, nor its content. Morover, having characters with Norwegian names living in the middle of Tokyo is simply not believable. He maintains.

But then, on the other hand, the Norwegian – or Polish or English – reader will not associate any colours with the words "Aka", "Ao", "Shiro" and "Kuro", no matter how many times their meaning is explained to them. They will not see the colours for their inner eye they way they will when reading the words "Red", "Blue", "White" and "Black". And the colours are significant – colours – or lack thereof – give the book its title, colours define the main character's sense of self – or lack thereof. Why cancel this out, keep it away from the reader? Just for fear of sounding childish?

While the names of the four friends are written with kanji, the nicknames are written in katakana, the phonetic syllabary used for emphasis, foreign loan words, and zoological and botanical expressions. The names stand out, they are singled out typographically with the Japanese version of inverted commas, and on the page look quite different from the name Tsukuru.

Still not convinced, I remember that the Swedish translation is supposed to be out about now. I find it, download it and check it out. Good old Yukiko Duke has come up with a compromise: "De båda killernas namn var Akamatsu – Rödtall – och Oumi – Blåhav, de bådatjejernas var Shirane – Vitrot – och Kurono – Svartäng." she writes, following Ursula German in first transcribing the names and then adding a translation or explanation. But henceforth when referring to them by their nicknames, she translates the nicknames into Swedish colours: Röd, Blå, Vit, Svart. It works. Two pages in, I am convinced. This is no childs' play.

I need to have another discussion with my co-translator. 

Ika Kaminka

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki interview by Publishers Weekly

 Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Haruki Murakami, trans. from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel. Knopf, $25 (400p) ISBN 978-0-385-35210-9
Murakami’s (1Q84) latest novel, which sold more than a million copies during its first week on sale in Japan, is a return to the mood and subject matter of the acclaimed writer’s earlier work. Living a simple, quotidian life as a train station engineer, Tsukuru is compelled to reexamine his past after a girlfriend suggests he reconnect with a group of friends from high school.
The result is a vintage Murakami struggle of coming to terms with buried emotions and missed opportunities, in which intentions and pent up desires can seemingly transcend time and space to bring both solace and desolation. (Aug.)
You can read the whole review here