The above is a comment by Jay Rubin, best known for his translations of Haruki Murakami. Here he is being interviewed for a New Yorker podcast. The problem of the untranslatable looms large in my mind, especially as my literary world tour is concerned. I’m aware, frustratingly aware, of my inability to fully grasp a work translated from the original language. “You [English readers] are,” says Jay Rubin, “at my mercy.”
Still, if ever I learn Japanese, Russian, Chinese, German, French, Spanish, or any other language, it will be no time soon. I will remain at the mercy of translators and continue to enjoy great works outside the English-speaking world.
Speaking of Murakami, his story Town of Cats is in the current issue of the New Yorker, and you can read it here. I found myself conflicted reading this story. As much as I enjoy the New Yorker, I have never much enjoyed a piece of fiction I’ve read in its pages. I don’t know why; maybe I had a bad first impression and that formed a prejudice. The thing is, I really, really like Murakami’s work, and yet I found myself reading it very skeptically.
It’s good, however. And, even better, it’s an excerpt from his novel 1Q84 which is coming out in English in late October. Operation buy me that book, you guys.
While you’re at it, and while we’re talking Japan, get me this blik too.