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Who We're Reading When We're Reading Murakami (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

An absolutely fascinating look behind the scenes and the many voices that go into translation work. I loved all the details that lead Murakami’s editors, translators to translate into English the worlds that Murakami Imagines.

— From Shannon's Picks


How did a loner destined for a niche domestic audience become one of the most famous writers alive? A rare look inside the making of the "Murakami Industry"--and a thought-provoking exploration of the role of translators and editors in the creation of global literary culture.

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? This 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.

David Karashima synthesizes research, correspondence, and interviews with dozens of individuals--including Murakami himself--to examine how countless behind-the-scenes choices over the course of many years worked to build an internationally celebrated author's persona and oeuvre. His careful look inside the making of the "Murakami Industry" uncovers larger questions: 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?

About the Author

David Karashima has translated a range of contemporary Japanese authors into English, including Hitomi Kanehara, Hisaki Matsuura, and Shinji Ishi. He co-edited the anthology March Was Made of Yarn: Writers Respond to the Japanese Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Meltdown and is co-editor of Pushkin Press's Contemporary Japanese Novellas series and Stranger Press's Keshiki Series. He is an associate professor of creative writing at Waseda University in Tokyo.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781593765897
ISBN-10: 1593765894
Publisher: Soft Skull Press
Publication Date: September 1st, 2020
Pages: 304
Language: English