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the Complete Review
the complete review - anthology / literary

A Wild Haruki Chase

compiled by The Japan Foundation

general information | our review | links

To purchase A Wild Haruki Chase

Title: A Wild Haruki Chase
Authors: various
Genre: Non-fiction
Written: 2006 (Eng. 2008)
Length: 150 pages
Original in: (Japanese)
Availability: A Wild Haruki Chase - US
A Wild Haruki Chase - UK
A Wild Haruki Chase - Canada
  • Reading Murakami Around the World
  • Translated by Yokota, Nozomu Kawamoto, and WordCraft
  • Originally published in Japanese in issue 12 of Wochi Kochi
  • With contributions by Jay Rubin, Murakami Haruki, Inuhiko Yomota, Richard Powers, Roland Kelts, Kim Choon Mie, Ivan Sergeevich Logatchov, Issey Ogata, Shozo Fujii, Koichi Oi, Shinya Machida, and representatives of the Japan Foundation
  • Includes eighteen full-colour images of covers from foreign editions of Murakami books
  • Includes the programme of the A Wild Haruki Chase: How the World Is Reading and Translating Murakami-symposium, where most of the contributions were presented
  • Includes a bibliography of foreign publications of ten of Murakami's major works

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Our Assessment:

B : interesting, but more a starting point than anything conclusive

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       A Wild Haruki Chase collects several contributions from a 2006 symposium on A Wild Haruki Chase: How the World Is Reading and Translating Murakami, as well as a piece by Murakami himself, 'To Translate and To Be Translated'.
       In his introduction, 'The Murakami Aeroplain', Jay Rubin already shows how broad interest in and the appeal of Murakami's work has become. Particularly noteworthy in this contribution, however, is his reminder that the version of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle currently available in English (in his translation) is a truncated one. Yet despite the increased interest in Murakami since it was first published, and the enormous success of his books in English, his publishers are still content to pawn off this inferior version:

Since then, I have occasionally suggested to Knopf that the time might be ripe for an uncut edition, but they have shown no interest in the idea.
       In his own piece 'To Translate and To Be Translated', Murakami proves surprisingly easy to please, placing no great demands on the translations of his work:
     If a translation can be read smoothly and effortlessly, and thus enjoyably, then it does its job as a translation perfectly well -- that is my basic stance as the original author. For that is what the stories that I conjure and lay out are really about.
       The attitude seems surprising, especially considering it comes from someone who has done a considerable bit of translating (something he mentions, but does not go into in the piece), and hence should be doubly aware of everything that can (and, so often, does) go wrong in translation. It's also a bit disappointing then that the pieces collected in this volume deal extensively with the reception of Murakami's books, but little with the translation-issues that arise in different languages. (So, for example, there was a considerable outcry in Germany a few years ago when some of the books were translated via the English translations and not from the Japanese originals.)
       Still, it is also interesting to see the specific national reactions: the veritable explosion of interest in Russia, for example, where they got on the bandwagon relatively late, but then zoomed ahead, with Murakami's newer titles published in Russian before they appear in English (including what Ivan Sergeevich Logatchov describes as: "the masterpiece Portrait in Jazz", published in Russia in 2005), or Kim Choon Mie describing how Murakami's work spoke to the so-called '386' generation in South Korea.
       The pieces tend to be very summary, often leaving more questions than answers, but still provide many useful and interesting titbits of much larger significance -- as when Kim Choon Mie notes that the publication of Murakami's Norwegian Wood in South Korea was a breakthrough of sorts:
Until then, Japanese literature was hardly available in South Korea aside from a few short stories by such major authors as Yasunari Kawabata, Jun'ichiro Tanizaki, and Yukio Mishima that were included in anthologies of world literature and the like. Nobel literature laureates Kawabata and Kenzaburo Oe were unable to win popular support.
       Several of the pieces focus on what it is about Murakami that makes for such wide-spread appeal, both on local-national levels, as well as globally -- with the interesting point repeatedly coming up that Murakami's status in Japan is far different than it is abroad, and that especially the Japanese establishment doesn't regard his work nearly as highly as many foreigners do. Roland Kelts' piece, 'What We Talk About When We Talk About Murakami', looks at the American reaction to Murakami -- using John Updike's review of Kafka on the Shore as a "revealing travesty" to show that not everybody in the US really 'gets it' either.
       Also included in this volume is Richard Powers' keynote speech from the symposium, a solid, creative introduction to the world of Murakami.
       Also included is a set of cover-images from international editions of Murakami's work, a nice added touch.
       Overall, A Wild Haruki Chase offers some nice peeks at the international phenomenon that Murakami has become. Almost all of these pieces are more starting points than definitive, but they do give Western readers some idea of how Murakami is received in cultures beyond Japan and the English-speaking world -- which also offers considerable additional insight into Murakami's work as a whole, helping readers see it from new perspectives. But more -- much more -- would be welcome.
       A nice little volume (the cover-pictures help, too), and certainly recommended for any Murakami-fan.

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A Wild Haruki Chase: Reviews: A Wild Haruki Chase: How the World Is Reading and Translating Murakami symposium: Murakami Haruki: Books by Murakami Haruki under review: Other books about Murakami Haruki under review: Other books of interest under review:

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