British Centre for Literary Translation: Who We’re Reading When We’re Reading Murakami

BCLT Research Seminar

Wednesday 17 Feb

12:00-13:30 GMT

Free to attend – book via Eventbrite

Thirty years ago, when Haruki Murakami’s works were first being translated, they were part of a series of pocket-size English-learning guides released only in Japan.  Today his books can be read in fifty languages and have won prizes and sold millions of copies globally.  How did a loner destined for a niche domestic audience become one of the most famous writers alive?  Karashima’s book tells one key part of the story.  Its cast includes an expat trained in art history who never intended to become a translator; a Chinese American ex-academic who never planned to work as an editor; and other publishing professionals in New York, London, and Tokyo who together introduced a pop-inflected, unexpected Japanese voice to the wider literary world.  Karashima’s careful look inside the making of the “Murakami Industry” uncovers larger questions, too: What role do translators and editors play in framing their writers’ texts?  What does it mean to translate and edit “for a market”?  How does Japanese culture get packaged and exported for the West?

David Karashima is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Waseda University in Tokyo.  He has translated a range of contemporary Japanese authors into English, including Hitomi Kanehara, Hisaki Matsuura and Shinji Ishii.  His publications also include the novel, The Making of the Next Kamimura (Kodansha, 2010) and the co-edited anthology March Was Made of Yarn: Writers Respond to the Japanese Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Meltdown (Harvill Secker, 2012).  He founded the first Tokyo International Literary Festival in 2013, and from April 2016 to March 2017 hosted the NHK radio show Eigo de yomu Murakami Haruki (“Reading Haruki Murakami in English”).  He is co-editor of Pushkin Press’s Japanese Novellas series and of the Keshiki series of chapbooks published by UEA’s Strangers Press.

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