Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Some New Murakami Translations

When surfing the internet I discovered that a French translation of the first two Murakami novels is appearing tomorrow, January 14th, from Belfond. The translator is Hélène Morita who has translated a number of Murakami novels. She has also done works by Natsume Soseki, Kawabata Yasunari, Miyazawa Kenji and Dazai Osamu. It is interesting to note that the word "pinball" [Japanese: pinbõru became "flipper"in French, like in Polish and Dutch translations.

Here is a link to an interview with Morita.
She calls Murakami's language "simple," "direct and flowing" and talks about Japanese being ambiguous, but admits that Murakami's language is less so. She also mentions the difficulty of translating tense and how her Japanese informants are sometimes not sure how to answer her questions. It is an issue I myself am very familiar with and will address in a future post – you ask three people and you get three different answers. How do you decide which one to choose?

And here is a link to a video where Hélène Morita talks about translating 1Q84 during the literary festival Mixed Zone organized by Université de Liège in October 2012.

Also, I seem to have missed the appearance of the Russian translation of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki by Dmitry Kovalenin. It came out last May from Eksmo.

One is struck by the similarity of the cover to the American version, designed by Chip Kidd and Maggie Hinders.

Readers of this blog may remember that sometimes particularly nice Murakami covers get "reused" by other translations. For example on September 14, 2014, I described how the Portuguese translation of Tsukuru Tazaki used the German cover design (by Lübekke Naumann Thoben) because the editor, Marta Ramires, "loved the cover and thought it might work for the Portuguese market as well." Some editions, for example, the Taiwanese translation by Lai Ming Chu, used the original Japanese cover design featuring a painting titled Pillars of Fire, by Morris Louis.

I have also found the Turkish cover of Tsukuru Tazaki. The book came out in 2014 from Doǧan Kitap and was translated by Hüseyin Can Erkin, a Japan scholar and a translator of a number Murakami's novels, including 1Q84 and Kafka on the Shore.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Murakami Wins the Andersen Literature Award

This is a slightly delayed post about Haruki Murakami's winning the H.C. Andersen Literary Award, which was announced on November 17th. The H.C. Andersen Literature Award is a Danish prize established in 2010. It is given every two years to authors whose works resemble Andersen's work. (It should not be confused with the H.C. Andersen Award, or Medal, given to authors of children's literature). The previous winners include Paulo Coelho, J.K. Rowling, Isabel Allende and Salman Rushdie.

On the official H.C. Andersen Award webpage we find the following explanation:
The purpose of the award is to pay tribute to Hans Christian Andersen’s influence on authors all over the world by choosing recipients whose work can be attached to Hans Christian Andersen’s name and life’s work – for instance through genre-based likenesses or artistic storytelling qualities. The chosen authors must, as it has been expressed, be at swan level with Hans Christian Andersen.
According to the article on Yahoo News, the jury honored Murakami for his "bold mix of classic narrative, pop culture, Japanese tradition, dreamlike realism and philosophical debate." The award ceremony will take place in October 2016 in Odense, Andersen's hometown.

This success, it must be said, owes in great measure to the fine translations of Mette Holm, Murakami's Danish translator. Mette has been working on Murakami for a number of years. (See the covers of her last four Danish versions of Murakami.)  A very versatile translator, Mette has also done works by Hiromi Kawakami, Kirino Natsuo, Banana Yoshimoto, Ryu Murakami, Kenzaburo Oe, Jiro Taniguchi and Taichi Yamada.  

photograph from: