American Made

Haruki Murakami is a Japanese writer who’s deeply influenced by American ones—it’s telling that his upcoming memoir of distance running is titled What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. So it’s not that surprising to hear that in recent years he’s been translating a host of American classics, including The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, The Long Goodbye, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. (Miss Brolly reports on stumbling over a copy of that last book.) Speaking with the Mainichi Daily News (which is apparently running a week’s worth of interviews with the author), Murakami calls out Raymond Chandler for special attention:

“Chandler’s writing style really grabbed me,” he says. “There’s something special about his writing. For years, I’ve always wondered what it was. Even after I’d translated him, though, I’m still wondering what it is that makes him special.”

Murakami’s strong interest in the secret behind that writing style was also evident in the long postscript he wrote for his translation of “The Long Goodbye.” In the afterword, Murakami writes: “Chandler’s creativity lies in the ‘ego set like a black box.'”

If there’s a listing somewhere in English of all the books that Murakami has translated, I can’t find it. But a quick Google shows that his love for American pop culture is evident: He’s translated a book on Pet Sounds and Mikal Gilmore‘s Shot to the Heart.

2 responses to “American Made

  1. A worthy addition to English-language commentary on Murakami is just out: A Wild Haruki Chase (http://www.stonebridge.com/WildHaruki/WildHarukiChase.html) features essays by author Richard Powers, translator Jay Rubin, actor/comedian Issey Ogata, Japanamerica author Roland Kelts, and a host of translators/critics from Russia, South Korea, China and elsewhere–plus an essay on translation by Murakami himself. It’s a good, quick and breezy read.

  2. Pingback: Toward a Complete Guide to Haruki Murakami’s Translations of American Writers Into Japanese « Mark Athitakis’ American Fiction Notes

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