Thursday, December 14, 2017

Taiwanese Translation of Killing Commendatore Came out on December 12

The Chinese translation of Haruki Murakami's newest book, Killing Commendatore, appeared in bookstores in Taipei on December 12, although the official publication date was December 8.  (This is the version in traditional characters; a simplified-character mainland Chinese translation by Lin Shaohua is supposedly in the works.)  The publisher is China Times, and the translator is the tireless Lai Ming Chu. Tireless, because she is, I believe, the author of the first Murakami translation into any foreign language, and because she has translated almost all of his works, including novels, shorts stories, essays, travelogues, etc.

The blue and white books on the left are the paperback versions, and the colorful ones on the right are  from the hardcover boxed set.

And here is Lai Ming Chu with her "Murakami shelf" in a bookstore in Taipei.

1 comment:

  1. I recently googled "Killing Commendatore" to get some info about the English translation release date. The second hit is an English review of the original Japanese version. I didn't read beyond a few sentences (no spoilers, please!) but the fact that it is negative is clear from the first sentence alone.

    I was surprised because I am about 25% through the Japanese text, and my experience so far has been very, very positive. Of course, my literary opinion does not carry much weight. But because this particular online review is so visible, and it is really the only one available in English, I thought I'd offer a few thoughts. I guess it seems to me this review has a bit of a monopoly right now--it almost feels unfair.

    I did a little research on the author of this article and he seems quite intelligent and qualified, and would likely make an excellent literary critic of novels--if those novels were read in English. According to the authors blog post about the process of the review, it took a total of 24 days(!) to finish "Killing Commendatore". Now, I fully understand the difficulties of the language, and think a lot of this had to do with wanting to be fully accurate in the understanding of the text. In that regard, 24 days is not a long time at all. But I would imagine any working literary critic rarely spends more than a couple of days with one book.

    Perhaps the most important quality of Murakami's work is the flow of the prose ("the music of words" as termed by Murakami's translator Jay Rubin). In all his work, I believe his pace helps to create the tonal environment within which his surreal elements are able to flourish and be accepted both consciously and unconsciously by the reader. Furthermore, his detailed description of mundane events would seem tedious to a non-native reader moving at a slow pace, but at a normal speed--if you'll allow me to use a Haruki-appropriate analogy--all the humdrum details become like the continued tapping on a hi-hat necessary to keep the saxophone from breaking loose into sonic ambiguity. And If you bring the tempo of that hi-hat to a near just end up with a headache.

    In short, without that flow, I really think some of the most important aspects are lost. In any case, it's worth it to be patient until you can read the new novel for yourself this fall! It's hard, but I think the best approach to reading any novel is to jump in without any preconceived notions. :)