Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Murakami's First Two Novels to be [Re]translated and [Re]published in Dutch and English

Haruki Murakami's first two novels, 「風の歌を聴け」 (Kaze no uta o like, 1979) and 「1973年のピンボール」 (1973 nen no pinbōru, 1980) were first translated into English by Alfred Birnbaum in 1987 and 1985, respectively, and published by Kodansha International for release in Japan only as Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973. 
Here are the pictures of my own well-used copies.

A new English translation by Ted Goossen is to come out next fall. The Guardian published an article about the release, which you can read here.

In fact, both novels have already appeared in translation in some other languages quite a long time ago. The Chinese translations were done by Lin Shaohua, the Taiwanese/HK version by Ming-Chu Lai, the Korean by Yun Songwon, and the Russian by Vadim Smolenskiy.

This year, my own Polish translation (below left) came out in May, and the Dutch translation by James Westerhoven is to appear in January 2015. It is already being featured on the webpage of Atlas Contact, the Dutch publisher.

In Polish, English, and Dutch the two books are being published together as one volume. Haruki Murakami wrote a foreword to the new English translation, which James Westerhoven was still able to include in the Dutch version, but it was too late for the Polish version. 

A few words about the titles. As Jay Rubin writes in Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words (31-32), the Japanese title of Kaze no uta o kike was  inspired by a line from Truman Capote's story, "Shut a Final Door": "So he pushed his face into the pillow, covered his ears with his hands, and thought: Think of nothing things, think of wind." 

The Polish title literally means "Listen to the Wind's Song" (pretty much a literal translation of the Japanese title).  James Westerhoven told me the following about the Dutch title: "it means "Listen to the Wind," because 'hear the wind sing' would mean that the wind is rising and there is probably going to be a storm."

1973 nen no pinbōru seems straightforward at first, but if you look at the two covers above carefully, you will see that the word "pinball" is not to be found on either. The Polish says "flipper" and the Dutch says "flipperen." This is because in both countries, for some reason, pinball machines are named "flipper" for the two elements at the bottom of the machine that the player uses to flip the ball away and back into action, which are called "flippers" in English.  According to James Westerhoven, the Dutch title literally means something like "Playing Pinball in 1973."

James also offered the following explanation about the Dutch book: "If you take a good look at the cover, you’ll see that the righthand cover has Luister only and the lefthand cover has Flipperen, and on the spine they have both, but both reading from opposite directions. That is because Atlas Contact are producing it as a so-called ‘upside-down’ or ‘turn-around’ book. When you’re done reading one novel, you have to close the book, turn it upside down, and begin again on page 1 for the second novel. Sounds like hell for the compositor/printer, but it’s an interesting concept."

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