Quick Thoughts on Translation–A Pleasant Surprise from reading Translations of Haruki Murakami

After hearing about all the hype over the 900-plus-page book, I finally started to plow through the English translation of 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami right after the New Year. The more I read, the more familiar his style became. The referencing of classical music and literature, historical events, and common usage of soliloquies, all reminded me of a Chinese translation of a book by a Japanese author I had read years ago when I was studying in Taiwan. I finally decided to look his name up online, and to my surprise, the book I read in Chinese was written by Haruki Murakami. This fascinated me because it shows that both translators were successful in translating the language, feel, and meaning of Murakami’s original text into the target language. Or, at least the writing style translated through.

Some translations are better than others, and a good translation of course, keeps the author’s style while keeping in mind the cultural nuances in each target language. It was a pleasant surprise for me to discover the connection between Haruki Murakami and 村上春樹 through reading translations of his books in two different languages.

Note: In case you’re wondering, the Chinese translation I read years ago  Norwegian Wood (挪威的森林), which was actually adapted into a movie in 2010.

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