On Korean Readers’ Fondness for Murakami in Translation

In News by Dennis Abrams

Haruki Murakami has more books translated into Korean than English, writes Colin Marshall for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Japanese author Haruki Murakami and the Korean translation of his book, ]Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage’

By Dennis Abrams | @DennisAbrams2

‘Grammatical Similarity’
Writing for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Colin Marshall observes that Haruki Murakami has more books out in Korean “than he ever will in English.”

Marshall writes that when Murakami’s next novel—Killing Commendatore, which he says goes on sale in Japan in a few weeks—is translated, it will bring the number of his titles available in English to 20, comprising 14 novels, three collections of short stories, two works of nonfiction, and a novella.

Marshall writes:

“The Korean language’s considerable grammatical similarity with Japanese (especially in comparison to, say, English) makes translation a much faster and smoother project than it is elsewhere, and so it stands to reason that Korea would get its Murakami books almost immediately after their publication in Japan.

“But not only does Korea get them sooner, it also gets many, many more of them…I haven’t found an exact total, but Korean-language readers can already choose from, at the very least, three times as many Murakami books as English-language ones can.”

At Seoul’s Peter Cat bookstore, Marshall writes, readers can find, in addition to Murakami’s novels—all of which are available in English.

A Korean edition of Haruki Murakami’s ‘1Q84,’ Book 3.

One can also find his Novelist as a Career, Murkami’s thoughts on life as a writer, of which, Marshall writes, “a work last I heard still on the desk of its English translator.”

What Murakami called in a New York Times Magazine profile “Murakami Industries” is at least in part to blame according to Marshall, creating what he describes as “a de-emphasis, not to say suppression” of what Marshall calls the “less literary side of his work.” That work, Marshall writes, includes “travel books about countries like Greece, Turkey, Australia, Laos, Scotland, and Ireland,” an collections of columns.

All of those have been translated and published in Korean, however, along with Murakami’s thoughts on such jazz icons as Chet Baker, Billie Holiday, Gerry Mulligan, and Ella Fitzgerald.

It does appear, as Marshall concludes, that “Korean readers will tire of discussing Haruki, as they almost always refer to him, no sooner than they’ll tire of his work itself.”

You can read Colin Marshall’s complete article at the Los Angeles Review of Books here.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.