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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Murakami On Translating Gatsby

In the current edition of Brick is a transcript of an essay Haruki Murakami published as the Afterword to the Japanese edition of The Great Gatsby, which he had translated and published in 2006.

I have written of the crucial importance that The Great Gatsby holds for me. As a responsible translator, therefore, it behooves me to try to explain that importance in more concrete terms.

When someone asks, “Which three books have meant the most to you?” I can answer without having to think: The Great Gatsby, Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, and Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye. All three have been indispensable to me (both as a reader and as a writer), yet if I were forced to select one, I would unhesitatingly choose Gatsby. Had it not been for Fitzgerald‘s novel, I would not be writing the kind of literature I am today (indeed, it is possible that I would not be writing at all, although that is neither here nor there).

4 Responses to “Murakami On Translating Gatsby”

  1. Lee says:

    I wish the essay were available in full online. I’m particularly interested in what he has to say about literary translation.

    jb says: Yes, it’s a pity, but it isn’t available, as far as I can see, apart from ordering yourself a copy of Brick. But that would be a treat in itself, Lee.

  2. Mark says:

    Funnily enough, I’m just reading a Marakumi at the moment. SPUTNIK SWEETHEART. And also funny — well, I’m laughing — is the fact that he’s had a run of short stories broadcast on the afternoon reading slot on Radio 4 this week. I rather fancy reading his book about marathon running and novel writing.

    But yes, a pity BRICK isn’t readily available in the UK. I’ve never seen an issue in Borders, the one store that seems to have a regular supply of imported literary magazines.

    jb says: Hi Mark, I believe the mag is only available by subscription here. That’s how I get my copy, anyway. But Murakami’s good, isn’t he?

  3. Lee says:

    I’ve read the running/writing book, and it’s a fast read, enjoyable in its way, but nothing exceptional.

  4. Mark says:

    Hmm. Seems odd a book about marathons and writing novels should be a breezy read.

    I’ve finished SPUTNIK SWEETHEART now and could certainly see the influence of GATSBY on it. Actually, the guy reminds me a bit of Jonathan Carroll. Anyone who hasn’t read Carroll should check out AFTER SILENCE and OUTSIDE THE DOG MUSEUM. I’ll check out more Murakami.

    jb says: Hi Mark. I don’t know Carroll’s work, so those titles have gone into that little (but growing longer every minute) list in my phone.