An English translation of absurdly popular Japanese author Haruki Murakami's newest novel won't be ready for release until 2014. The Japanese publication of the book — literally translated as Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and the Year of His Pilgrimage, though it's official English name may change — caused a "mania" in Japan, sold over a million copies a week, led to "Harry Potter-like" lines, and was the fastest selling book in Amazon Japan's history.
American readers will have to wait a big longer, however, to read the latest from Murakami, who is famous for kafkaesque, surreal tales such as 1Q84 and Kafka on the Shore.
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group executive director of media relations Paul Bogaards told us that English readers worldwide should see Murakami’s new novel in 2014. The publisher will make a formal announcement later this year about the novel.
In a conversation with The Atlantic Wire, Bogaards — a well-known publishing industry wit — said this was because the translator "works in pencil." He later explained that he was joking.
But at least one telling sentence has been translated in an English review of the book from a Japanese writer, quoting the novel's opening line: "From July of his sophomore year at college to January next year, Tsukuru Tazaki was living while mostly thinking about dying.” The reviewer goes on to explain the basic plot as the "tale of a man who tries to overcome his sense of loss and isolation, which has accumulated in the dark part of his heart."
American readers can expect a smooth translation, as the book's sole English translator, Philip Gabriel, has masterfully worked Murakami's biggest hits into English. Gabriel told The Atlantic in 2011 that, though difficult, working from Murakami's texts is relatively straightforward:
There's a generalization out there that Japanese is somehow imprecise or vague compared to English. I don't buy it. Japanese communicate as well as anyone, and a writer like Murakami—though the overall atmosphere of his work may be dreamlike or surreal at times—lays out his ideas clearly.
And, well, there's one other option for those not adept at Japanese and without the patience to wait — a Spanish translation will be released in October. ¡Buena Suerte!
Photo of 1Q84 books: AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi;