Haruki Murakami's '1Q84': The first words
Haruki Murakami has some obsessive fans who'd do anything to get their hands on his next book. When his novel "1Q84" was released in Japan in 2009, it was under a closely held embargo. The book is slated for U.S. release Oct. 24.
Because it's already out there, any hard-core English-speaking Murakami fan could go to an online translator, or better yet, a Japanese friend, to get a peek at what's inside. But they wouldn't have the actual official translation.
But the folks at the Millions do:
The taxi’s radio was tuned to a classical FM broadcast. Janáček’s Sinfonietta -- probably not the ideal music to hear in a taxi caught in traffic. The middle-aged driver didn’t seem to be listening very closely, either. With his mouth clamped shut, he stared straight ahead at the endless line of cars stretching out on the elevated expressway, like a veteran fisherman standing in the bow of his boat, reading the ominous confluence of two currents. Aomame settled into the broad back seat, closed her eyes, and listened to the music.
As the Millions explains, the 1,000-plus page "1Q84" was published in three volumes in Japan, two volumes in England and one in the U.S. The site credits Jay Rubin as the translator for parts 1 and 2 of "1Q84," and Philip Gabriel as the translator of Part 3. A decade ago, Rubin and Gabriel had an email conversation about translating Murakami, now posted on the authors' official website. Rubin wrote, in part:
Phil, I have absolutely no idea why Murakami became such a "breakthrough" writer in the West. From the beginning, I felt he was writing for ME, and I always assume I have quirky tastes not shared by many others.... I did not choose to work on him after a judicious review of all the current Japanese writers that convinced me he was the best: I just knew that I was not likely to find another writer anywhere in the world who spoke to me so directly and personally, so I jumped into his world without the least hesitation. How can so many other readers be feeling that way? Murakami gets inside your brain and does weird things to it.
That wierdness is coming in October to a brain near you.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Haruki Murakami in Spain in June. Credit: Jordi Bedmar / EPA