Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Reviews of the English Translation of Wind/Pinball Overlook the Translator

The appearance of the English translation by Ted Goossen of Murakami's first two novels Wind/Pinball was followed by many reviews in the American and British press. Here are a few quotes and links.


Last Sunday's NYT Book Review features a very positive review by Steve Erickson, first published online on August 12th.

The only passage indirectly referring to translation (or does it?) is this:
 "Crossing Kafka and the Beatles with Kenzaburo Oe (not an early Murakami fan), adding dashes of noir and science fantasy and creating an irresistible amalgam of East and West, Murakami sometimes has been odd man out to both: English-speaking readers may find it even less convincing than have the guardians of Murakami’s native culture when, for instance, he writes that something “blew my mind.” But authenticity is the enemy of audacity, and Murakami’s atomic sensibility characterizes world literature. Don’t tell the rest of the country, because it may blow their minds, but American fiction plays catch-up."

The Guardian published a review by Ian Sansom on August 13th.
Sansom clearly hasn't done his homework thoroughly, however, because he refers to the "40+years of the stellar career" (Murakami published his first book in 1979, which is 36 years ago). There is not a word about the translator or translation, except a brief mention of Ted Goossen's name.
Sansom calls the books "super-elliptical pop-noir" and praised them thus: 
What keeps the reader engaged are the Murakamian swerves, the long shots, the non sequiturs and the odd adjacencies. The books all read as if Raymond Chandler were writing scripts for David Lynch to direct with Yasujir┼Ź Ozu: super-elliptical pop-noir for the twentysomething well-to-do.

The Huffington Post published a review by Steven Petite on August 4th.

Petite seems to have liked the books, but he also does not find it necessary to refer to the translation. He praised the books saying:
With that, he delivers a reading experience that causes personal reflection, thoughts larger than ourselves, and consequently, the way we handle all of the big, external ideas within our 
                                 own, internal minds.  

And here is the link to the Publishers Weekly review.

The author (unnamed) likes the books and says:
Elegiac, ambient, and matter-of-fact in their strangeness, these two novels might leave casual readers wondering what all the fuss is about. But for the rest of us, this may be the ultimate bit of Murakami arcana, both elevating his other books (including A Wild Sheep Chase and Dance, Dance, Dance, the sequels) and serving as two excellent, though fragile, works in their own right. 

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