Wednesday, October 29, 2014

New Reviews of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki in the American and French Press

A long review of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki appeared in the October 23 issue of the New York Review of Books.   Authored by writer and translation studies scholar Tim Parks, the review, titled, "Charms of Loneliness," begins this way: 

"In considering the life and work of Haruki Murakami it’s good to keep a sharp eye on the relationship between individual and community, on questions of inclusion and exclusion, belonging and abandonment." 
Although it cannot be called an enthusiastic review, it definitely merits the attention of all readers of this blog.  Parks criticizes dialogues for their "solemnly static tone," and dismisses similes and metaphors as being "invariably portentous." Noting that the novel offers an "intriguing core story of how an adolescent idyll went badly wrong," he characterizes Tsukuru's pilgrimage as "the story of a woefully prolonged adolescence," and ends the review with the tantalizing, and highly ironic, phrase: "There is talk of the Nobel."

You can read a longish part of the article (or the whole thing, if you are a subscriber) here.

In contrast to NYRB, The New Yorker eschewed a full review of the book, limiting itself instead to a single paragraph under "Briefly Noted."

The French translation of Tsukuru Tazaki, by Hélène Morita, came out in early September.  A review by Françoise Dargent, "Haruki Murakami, le blues de l'homme invisible" [the blues of an invisible man], came out in Le Figaro on August 28th.  It begins with the words, "Le dernier Murakami est arrrivé" [The latest Murakami has arrived]. The reviewer believes that Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki belongs to the genre of lyrical realism. 

Here is a longer fragment of the review:

Le dernier Murakami est arrivé. Au Japon, la nouvelle fut annoncée à l'aide de haut-parleurs par des libraires surexcités. S'ensuivit une ruée en magasin qui vit s'envoler les exemplaires de L'Incolore Tsukuru Tazaki et ses années de pèlerinage. Le voici qui fait étape en France, où les lecteurs ont fini par digérer les trois tomes de 1Q84. En comparaison, cet opus signe le retour du Japonais à une forme de normalité avec un seul livre. Finis les mondes parallèles, les sauts dans le temps et les créatures étranges, Tsukuru Tazaki est un homme au demeurant banal, un ingénieur de Tokyo qui vit sagement à notre époque. Il n'en changera pas tout au long du récit, s'autorisant comme seuls glissements temporels des flash-back sur son passé récent pour mettre le lecteur au parfum de ce qui le hante.

You can read the whole thing here.

Also, here is a picture of a poster advertising a play titles Nuits Blanches based on Murakami's story "Nemuri" ("Sleep," or "Sommeil" in this case), taken by my friend, Miljko, in Paris.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Haruki Murakami Wins Welt's Literaturpreis for 2014

It was announced on October 3 that Haruki Murakami will be the recipient of this year's Die Welt literary prize. The prize, established in honor of Willy Haas, who founded Die Literarische Welt in 1995, has been awarded annually since 1999 to international authors by the literary supplement of the German weekly.  Among past recipients are Philip Roth, Amos Oz, Imre Kértesz, Jeffrey Eugenides and Jonathan Franzen. Murakami will apparently travel to Berlin to accept the prize on November 7. 

Die Welt published a long article announcing the prize, in which Richard Kämmerlings talks about Murakami's biography, his writing style, and his newest novel [Tsukuru Tazaki].  He also refers to the new anthology of stories [Onna no inai otokotachi], which will be coming out in German later in October as Von Männern die keine Frauen haben -- before the English translation appears, as Kämmerlings stresses ("In der kommenden Woche erscheint im Dumont Verlag ein neuer Band mit Erzählungen von Murakami auf Deutsch, noch vor der englischen Übersetzung"). 

The article features pictures of both beautiful covers and Ursula Gräfe is listed as the translator underneath each of them, but there is not one word about her in the article. It would seem pretty obvious that it must be partly owing to her great translations that the jurors for Die Welt decided to give the prize to Haruki Murakami!

 You can find the whole article here

'Tis the Season to Bet on Nobel...

Long-time readers of this blog will no doubt remember the stir created last year by rumors that Haruki Murakami might win the Nobel Prize in Literature, which I reported on here.  With the announcement of this year's prize just days away, once again there is a fair amount of buzz about the same thing. On September 30, the Wall Street Journal published an article by Brenda Cronin, who writes that, "guessing who will win the Nobel Prize in literature is an exercise skimpy on data and heavy on gossip and guesswork. But that hasn’t stopped handicappers from making a book on the contest." UK bookmaker Ladbrokes says that the odds on Murakami are five-to-one. 

The article also includes this amusing illustration, portraying this year's frontrunners in the literary Nobel race: left to right, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Haruki Murakami, Joyce Carol Oates, Salman Rushdie and Philip Roth.

You can read the whole article here.

The Guardian -- which quotes the odds as being 4:1 -- also published a piece about Murakami's Nobel chances.  Author Alison Flood mentions Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o as the other favorite, but the rest of her list differs from the one quoted by the Wall Street Journal: it includes Belarussian journalist Svetlana Alexievich, Syrian poet Adonis, French writer Patrick Modiano, Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse, and Austrian author Peter Handke.  Only American author Philip Roth is on both lists. You can read the article here.

It would of course be exciting for us, his translators, if Haruki Murakami were to win the prize. At the same time, I feel that part of his charm is that he is the perpetual "outsider," and as a Nobel Prize winner that would cease, and he would instead become the ultimate "insider," enshrined forever in the world's literary pantheon.

You can watch the Nobel Prize announcement on Thursday, October 9 at 1 pm (CET) or 7 am (EST) here.