Saturday, July 25, 2015

Another Review of Wind/Pinball and the Italian Translation of Men without Women

In her July 23 review of Wind/Pinball, which appeared in the Independent online, Arifa Akbar calls the novellas, "appetisers from the kitchen table," referring to the fact that Murakami wrote them at home late at night after getting back from work (this was many years ago, when he ran a jazz bar). Akbar's opinion of the language of the books differs greatly from Matthew Adams's, quoted in the previous post. She writes: "What stands out in both books is the writing, beautiful in its simplicity, and also the deadpan humour and one-liners." Here is a link to the review.

In other Murakami translation news, the Italian translation of Men without Women, by Antonietta Pastore, appeared last week. The Italian title Uomini senza donne also uses "women" in plural -- I am referring here to an earlier discussion about singular vs. plural in this title (see the posts of March 29 and March 6).

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Introduction to Wind/Pinball Already Available Online

The introduction written by Murakami for Wind/PinballTwo Novels, which is being released by Knopf on August 4, is already available online here:
In it, Murakami talks about how he became a writer and puts his two earliest novels in a broader context by explaining their inception -- an interesting read!

And here is an early review by Matthew Adams:
The reviewer mentions the name of the translator, Ted Goossen, and says that the books are "a great treat," but then -- as is so often the case in these situations -- proceeds to comment on the writing style, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the words he read were Ted Goossen's, not Murakami's: "But anyone expecting a high standard of writing from these books will be disappointed. Their dominant mode is that of cliché: characters “sweat like a pig”; have “time to kill”; gaze with “bleary eyes”; complain that they are “dead tired”; endure rain that is “freezing cold”; sit in cars that are “stifling hot.”  There may be clichés in the original, but if you are going to comment on the use of clichés in a review of a translation from a language as different from English as Japanese, wouldn't it make sense  to refer to the fact that one is commenting on the language of the translation?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

"I very often feel I’m writing original—almost original—fiction" Says Jay Rubin About Translation

An interview with Jay Rubin by Nikkitha Bakshani recently appeared in the online literary magazine, The Rumpus. As regular readers of this blog will know, Rubin is a scholar of Japanese literature and one of the best-known American translators of Murakami; what some of you may not know is that he is also the author of a new novel, The Sun Gods. 

In the interview, occasioned by the publication of his novel, he explains how he became interested in Japanese and discusses his views of translation as "writing original -- almost original -- fiction."

Picture from

I'm pasting the first question and Jay's answer to whet your appetites and hoping that The Rumpus will forgive me.

The Rumpus: What drew you to studying Japanese language and literature?
Jay Rubin: In my second year at the University of Chicago, I assumed I was going to be either an English or a Philosophy major, and I had about one free quarter where I thought, “Why don’t I do something non-Western, as this could be my last chance?” It just so happened that there was an Introduction to Japanese Literature course available in that quarter.
The professor would bring in not just the English translations that we were reading, but also the originals. He would read from the original and give literal translations. He gave the class a strong impression that as much as we were enjoying these translations, we’d enjoy them far more in the original.
I decided right there and then I was going to study Japanese. At the time, I was selling ice cream from a truck. I remember having my Japanese books with me, and on break, I would practice writing characters on banana skins.
To read the whole interview, go to:

Here is also a link to Jay Rubin's recent review of Juliet Winters Carpenter and Mari Yoshihara's translation of Mizumura Minae's The Fall of Language in the Age of English. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Greek, Icelandic and Croatian Translations of Tsukuru Tazaki

I have previously failed to note three new translations of Tsukuru Tazaki, all from last year.

The first is the Icelandic translation by Ingunn Snædal published by Bjartur.

The second one is the Croatian translation, which came out in November 2004 from Vuković & Runjić. The translator, Maja Šoljan, has translated a number of Murakami novels; her Croatian translation of After Dark, titled Kak padne mrak, won the 2009 Kiklop Prize for the "translation of the year." However, since she also seems to translate extensively from English (Jeffrey Eugenides, Alice Munro, Philip Roth, etc.), it is not clear whether the translation of After Dark was a direct translation from Japanese or an indirect translation from English. I have contacted the publisher and am waiting for their reply. 

The third new translation of Tsukuru Tazaki is the Greek version by Maria Argyraki, which appeared last October from Psychologios.