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.

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