Picture of Author    From the Desktop of Haruki Marukami

TRANSLATING MURAKAMI: an email roundtable

From: Philip Gabriel
Sent: Jan. 18, 2001
To: Jay Rubin; Gary Fisketjon
Subject: Re: An email roundtable: Translating Murakami

This is for Gary, from Phil. I really enjoyed reading all your comments. It's interesting for me to see things through an editor's eyes. When I mentioned having to edit as well as translate (when translating Japanese novels) I was thinking of more than just the usual decisions a translator makes. To give you an example, when I was translating the Shimada novel, Dream Messenger, there was a long paragraph in one of the early pages that just did not belong there, as far as I saw it, and fairly screamed out to be moved a few pages later, where it could logically, and smoothly, introduce a new character. My editor at Kodansha agreed, and we made the move. I felt I needed to alert the reader to this, and other more minor changes, so I had a statement added after the title page to the effect that the book was "translated and adapted with the permission of the author." I know that after the changes done to WIND-UP BIRD this is very small potatoes, but I remember thinking long and hard about the role of the translator (this was my first novel, after all) before giving myself the dual role of editor and translator.

Are there any plans afoot to publish Murakami's first two novels, HEAR THE WIND SING and PINBALL, 1973? As you know, they've been available in Japan from the Kodansha International English Library -- those small books for Japanese high school students you mentioned). I always told interested people here to order them through the LA or NYC Kinokuniya, but after my last trip to Japan (two weeks ago) and many visits to bookstores there, I got the impression that they may not even be available from Kodansha. (They were nowhere to be found, in other words.) Sure they're not the blockbusters that his later novels are, but I think they're enjoyable, give a lot of insight into Murakami's approach to writing, and should be made available. (Each one is so short, though, that it may be good to combine them into one two-part novel in English.) Any plans to issue them, or retranslate them? (Hint hint!)

Best wishes,



From: Philip Gabriel Sent: Monday, December 18, 2000 5:28 PM
From: Jay Rubin Sent: Wednesday, December 20, 2000 5:23 AM  
From: Philip Gabriel Sent: Wednesday, December 20, 2000 12:17 PM  
From: Jay Rubin Sent: Wednesday, December 20, 2000 8:43 PM  
From: Jay Rubin Sent: Wednesday, December 20, 2000 10:21 PM  
From: Jay Rubin Sent: Tuesday, January 9, 2001 8:22 PM  
From: Philip Gabriel Sent: Tuesday, January 9, 2001 8:22 PM  
From: Fisketjon, Gary Sent: Tuesday, January 16, 2001 2:14 PM  
From: Philip Gabriel Sent: Jan. 18, 2001 
From: Gary Fisketjon Sent: Thursday, January 18, 2001 5:50 PM