Who We're Reading When We're Reading Murakami

David Karashima (Author)


How did a loner destined for a niche domestic audience become one of the most famous writers alive? A "fascinating" look at the "business of bringing a best-selling novelist to a global audience" (The Atlantic)โ€•and a "rigorous" exploration of the role of translators and editors in the creation of literary culture (The Paris Review).

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?

Product Details

$16.95  $15.59
Soft Skull Press
Publish Date
September 01, 2020
5.5 X 8.2 X 0.9 inches | 0.7 pounds

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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.


Praise for Who We're Reading When We're Reading Murakami

"Karashima, a Japanese novelist and translator, has conducted a profound riff on the art of translation in considering the work of Haruki Murakami, and how it differs in English from its original publications in Japanese. Tracking the work of the major Murakami translators who have rendered his work into English, this book shows the way it is shaped, edited, and reformed by who is working on it . . . A must read for translators and fans of Murakami alike." --Literary Hub, One of the Most Anticipated Books of the Year

"Having touched hearts, a novel swims in the lives and minds of many people and spreads to new worlds. When translated into another language, it is reborn--a miracle that gives off the scent of actual people. The candid words in this book convey an unadulterated sense of the body heat behind a major literary current." --Sayaka Murata, author of Convenience Store Woman

"An astonishingly thorough and illuminating look at the way that Murakami became recognized, and at all the people--translators in particular--who made it possible by the decisions they made. Karashima's book is a hands-on and very frank look at the social construction of a literary reputation." --Brian Evenson, author of Song for the Unraveling of the World and Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

Praise for March Was Made of Yarn

"Writer/editor Luke and novelist/translator Karashima have pulled together a diverse collection of new and previously published nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and a manga to create "an artistic record" of a people's response to an unimaginable disaster. The writers are mostly Japanese--including major names like Yoko Ogawa and Ryu Murakami--translated into English by an impressive list of powerhouse translators. . . . the impetus behind each individual piece is heartfelt." --Terry Hong, The Christian Science Monitor

"March Was Made of Yarn isn't just an excellent anthology of work related to the Tลhoku disasters; it's an excellent Japanese literary anthology period. The range of authors represented by the book has the most even distribution of gender, generation, and genre I've ever encountered, and the English-language contributors, such as David Peace and John Burnham Schwartz, bring an added level of flavor and diversity. This collection is also accessible to casual readers, as few of the stories are any longer than twenty pages, and it has been beautifully published by Vintage. I don't know how so many good things were able to come together to create this amazing book, but I am extraordinarily grateful that it exits." --Contemporary Japanese Literature

"March Was Made of Yarn, an important collection of essays, stories, poems and manga, is the powerful and timely response of Japan's most talented writers."--Min Jin Lee, The Times of London