12 hours on a plane. What better to do than translate some Murakami? I used a bit of my time to translate part of the Mainichi Shimbun’s new three-part interview with Murakami. I stopped right around where the spoilers started, so you can read safely:
Haruki Murakami Talks 1Q84 – Exclusive Interview 1 – “Book 3 by next summer”
In May the author Haruki Murakami released the full-length novel 1Q84 (Book 1, Book 2; Shinchosha, 1890 yen each), which has since become a huge talking-point. Murakami recently responded to the Mainichi Shimbun’s interview. The story features a layered plot that depicts “the struggle between individual and the system” set in Japan in the 1980s. For the first time, Murakami makes it clear that he is in the process of writing an additional third part. Mainichi asked his for his thoughts as a writer.
First of all “1985”
Currently both volumes of 1Q84 have gone through 18 printings and achieved million-seller status, with Book 1 selling 1,230,000 copies and Book 2 1,000,000 copies. There has been an extraordinary response, including, among other things, the publication of several books of commentary.
“I think that I have about 150,000 – 200,000 established readers for my novels. When it’s around that many, I get kind of a sense of how my work is being received. When it gets up to 500,000 or 1,000,000, it’s really hard to tell who is reading it and how they feel about it.”
The mysterious title is based on George Orwell’s novel 1984 (’49), but there is a secret story behind it.
“At first I was going to title it 1985. But while I was writing it, I talked with Michael Radford, the director of the movie version of Orwell’s work, and learned that the British writer Anthony Burgess was writing a book called 1985. After thinking about it for a while, I decided to change it to 1Q84, and when I finished writing, I searched around on the Internet and realized that Akira Asada had actually released a music cassette/book set under the same title. At that point the galley revisions were already underway, so I let Asada-san know. And so that’s how it eventually ended up like it did.”
It’s been three months since the publication. Can we ask what you think of the criticism you’ve received?
“I haven’t read any at all. I don’t ever read it, but I took special care this time since I’m writing Book 3. I want to be able to focus on writing from a fresh state of mind. I thought it would be totally finished when I completed 1 and 2. And that’s what I was thinking when I structured it on Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier” – that it would be complete with two volumes. But after a little while, I started to feel like I had to write 3. I wondered how the rest of the story would unfold. As far as the timeframe, I’d like to put it out as quickly as possible, so I’m thinking next summer as a goal.”
Oops over here, too. Anthony Burgess died back in 1993, and his book 1985 was written back in 1978. You can go check the Japanese yourself and figure out what I did wrong. If you want to see another translation of the interview, check out this link.