Tag Archives: Haruki Murakami

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

Men Without Women Haruki Murakami‘Men Without Women’ by Haruki Murakami is the renowned Japanese author’s first new collection of short stories to be translated into English in over a decade. Echoing Ernest Hemingway’s collection of the same name, the seven tales in this collection are indeed about men experiencing loneliness and isolation without the women who are now absent from their lives for various reasons. The stories have been translated by Ted Goossen and Philip Gabriel who have both worked on many of Murakami’s previous books.
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Wind/Pinball by Haruki Murakami

Wind Pinball Haruki Murakami

Shortly after ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage‘ was published in 2014, it was announced that Haruki Murakami’s first two novellas ‘Hear the Wind Sing’ and ‘Pinball, 1973’ would be retranslated and reissued in English. Originally published in Japan in 1979 and 1980 respectively, the English translations by Alfred Birnbaum have long been out of print. Despite Murakami’s cult status followed by increasing commercial success across the world and with rare copies of the original translations selling for hundreds of pounds on eBay, it’s surprising that the novellas haven’t been reissued sooner. Last year, new translations by Ted Goossen were finally made available in one volume under the shortened title ‘Wind/Pinball’. Continue reading

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The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Shortlist 2015

Independent Foreign Fiction PrizeThe official shortlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was announced this week:

We can also reveal our shadow jury shortlist:

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The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Longlist 2015

It’s been an interesting week for book award longlists. First, there was the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist announced on Tuesday followed by the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize longlist announced late on Wednesday. The fifteen novels are:Independent Foreign Fiction Prize

  • The Ravens by Tomas Bannerhed translated from the Swedish by Sarah Death
  • The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky
  • Bloodlines by Marcello Fois translated from the Italian by Silvester Mazzarella
  • In the Beginning Was the Sea by Tomás González translated from the Spanish by Frank Wynne
  • The Dead Lake by Hamid Ismailov translated from the Russian by Andrew Bromfield
  • F by Daniel Kehlmann translated from the German by Carol Brown Janeway
  • Boyhood Island by Karl Ove Knausgaard translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett
  • By Night the Mountain Burns by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel translated from the Spanish by Jethro Soutar
  • The Investigation by Jung-Myung Lee translated from the Korean by Chi-Young Kim
  • While the Gods Were Sleeping by Erwin Mortier translated from the Dutch by Paul Vincent
  • Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel
  • The Giraffe’s Neck by Judith Schalansky translated from the German by Shaun Whiteside
  • Tiger Milk by Stefanie de Velasco translated from the German by Tim Mohr
  • Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch
  • The Last Lover by Can Xue translated from the Chinese by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen

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Four Novellas I’ve Read Recently

Academy StreetDept of SpeculationThe Strange LibraryOffshore

 

 

 

 

Long novels like ‘The Goldfinch‘ by Donna Tartt and ‘The Luminaries‘ by Eleanor Catton received lots of attention last year. But let’s not forget that conciseness in fiction is just as important and effective as the achievements of sprawling epics.

I’ve used the term novella quite loosely here to mean books which are longer than a typical short story but less than two hundred pages or fifty thousand words. Here are four short reviews of short works of fiction I’ve read recently which prove that less can be more:

1. Academy Street by Mary Costello

This is an excellent book which tells the story of Tess Lohan, a shy young woman who emigrates from Ireland to the United States in the 1960s. It has drawn comparisons to ‘Brooklyn’ by Colm Tóibín due to the similar setting, understated writing and introverted main character. The book spans Tess’s life from childhood to old age in less than 180 pages – it could have been twice as long with more detail about other aspects of her life, yet the devastating impact of the ending was so much more powerful due to its brevity without ever feeling rushed.

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New Books Coming Soon in 2015

The Buried GiantA God in RuinsA Spool of Blue ThreadThe Girl on the Train

 

 

 

 

 

2014 was a fantastic year for new books by some of my favourite authors including ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage‘ by Haruki Murakami, ‘The Paying Guests‘ by Sarah Waters, ‘Us‘ by David Nicholls and ‘The Book of Strange New Things‘ by Michel Faber. 2015 is also shaping up to be a bumper year for long-awaited new novels from both established authors and debut novelists alike. Here are the ones to watch in 2015:

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Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

Colorless Tsukuru TazakiAfter selling more than one million copies in its first week of publication in Japan in April 2013, ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage’ by Haruki Murakami has been one of the most highly anticipated novels of the year arriving in bookshops in the UK earlier this month. It tells the story of Tsukuru Tazaki who had four friends in high school whose names all coincidentally contained a colour: Akamatsu (‘red pine’), Oumi (‘blue sea’), Shirane (‘white root’) and Kurono (‘black field’). During his second year of university, Tsukuru’s friends announce without warning that they no longer want to see him or talk to him ever again and refuse to tell him why. Now in his mid-thirties, Tsukuru meets Sara who thinks he should finally come to terms with what happened and find out why he was suddenly shut out by his friends all those years ago. Continue reading

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Top Ten Quotes About Reading

Southbank Book Market

From the works of Cicero (“A room without books is like a body without a soul”) to George W. Bush’s pearls of wisdom (“One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures”), there are thousands of quotes about the wonders of reading. Here are a few of my favourites:

10) “When you are growing up there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully: the church, which belongs to God, and the public library, which belongs to you.” (Keith Richards)

9) “It would be a good thing to buy books if one could also buy the time to read them.” (Schopenhauer)

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Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

Strange Weather in Tokyo‘Strange Weather in Tokyo’ by Hiromi Kawakami (also known as ‘The Briefcase’ in the United States and Canada) tells the story of Tsukiko, an office worker in her late thirties who meets one of her old high school teachers by chance in a sake bar. His name is Harutsuna Matsumoto but she calls him Sensei. They strike up an unusual relationship and continue to meet from time to time without prior arrangements as the seasons pass. Continue reading

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Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman and The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami

The Elephant VanishesBlind Willow Sleeping Woman

Haruki Murakami is one of my favourite authors but after reading all three volumes of ‘1Q84‘ when I finished my degree, I decided to take a break from his writing for a while. Somehow, two years seems to have gone by in a flash and his next novel ‘Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage’ is due to be published in the UK in August. I borrowed Murakami’s collection of short stories about the Kobe earthquake ‘after the quake’ from the library some time ago but I thought I should finally investigate the other two volumes of his short stories that I had yet to read. I recently bought ‘The Elephant Vanishes’ from a charity shop (by recently, I mean about eight months ago) and ‘Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman’ has been on my shelves for some time. Continue reading

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New Books Coming Soon in 2014

One of of my reading resolutions this year has been to get through more of the books I already have on my shelves and Kindle.  I have been making some slow and steady progress recently but, as always, I still have my eye on the latest books.  Here are a few I am particularly looking forward to which have not yet been published:

The Paying Guests Frog Music The Silkworm

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1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

1q84Wow.  What can I say?  I loved it.  All 925 pages of it.  Haruki Murakami’s magnum opus is a crime thriller and a love story set in 1984 and a parallel world of 1Q84 (Q for question mark) with elements of magical realism.  Told through Murakami’s characteristically surreal and dream-like prose, ‘1Q84’ is a spectacularly addictive read.

The thing about ‘1Q84’ that you can’t ignore is that it’s… well… very long.  It’s certainly the longest novel I’ve ever read anyway.  Before I started reading it, I found the sheer length of the book quite daunting given that it is unusual for me to take over a week to read a novel especially when I’m not working.  But the way in which the stories of Aomame and Tengo gradually become more and more entwined through the mysterious religious cult of Sakigake in the parallel world of 1Q84 is highly absorbing.  It was so brilliantly written that I still didn’t want it to end. Continue reading

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Underground by Haruki Murakami

Underground‘Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche’ is a non fiction work by Haruki Murakami about the terrorist attacks on the Tokyo subway in 1995 by members of the Aum cult.  I am a big fan of Murakami’s fiction and admit that I only picked up the book from the library because it had his name on the cover.  I also didn’t know too much about this particular incident before reading about it this week but ‘Underground’ seems to have been the best place to start as it is a balanced and insightful view of the dreadful events of 20th March 1995 whilst also exploring further questions about the Japanese mentality towards their everyday lives. Continue reading

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Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami

Dance Dance Dance Haruki MurakamiLast summer, I set myself the slightly insane task of reading two novels a week purely for pleasure, in other words, not related to my degree course.   Originally, this ‘project’ was only meant to last for my sixteen week summer break and had been something I had been looking forward to for a long time as I had had only limited access to English language books when I was studying in Paris for a year (the time when I really should have started writing a blog).  I expected that I wouldn’t be able to continue the pace during term time.  However, nearly ten months later, possibly at the expense of getting a decent result in my degree, I am still managing to read two novels a week, having possibly borrowed more fiction from the university than the non-fiction I am supposed to be reading for my course.  Some people ruin their degrees by drinking too many Jagerbombs at toga parties.  I, however, may ruin my degree by spending too much of my time reading 653 page novels by Jonathan Franzen instead of journal articles about political analysis.  And if my blogging word count starts getting higher than my project word count…well, that’s when I’ll know I have a bit of a problem. Continue reading

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