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Publisher Shinchōsha has announced Murakami Haruki is going to publish a new novel in Feb 2017.
The image says:
First super-long novel in 7 years
Publication set for Feb 2017
2,000 pages completed, 2 volumes total
He said it’s going to be “a very strange story, longer than Kafka On the Shore, and shorter than 1Q84.” Those novels sold more than 4 million & 8.4 million copies, respectively. (Source: Asahi Shimbun)
It’s been almost 4 years since his last novel was published, in 2013. That was Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.
He published the short story collection Men Without Women in 2014.
Want ongoing updates (in Japanese)?
Below I explain how to subscribe to email updates from the publisher about the novel.
– Go to the Shinchōsha website.
– Click the black button, or this link. It says, “Those seeking forthcoming information, [click] here.”
– Click the black button. It says “Send.”
I’ll aim to publish the updates here as they come out.
World-renowned Japanese writer Murakami Haruki has a new book out, his first collection of short stories in nine years. The title is「女のいない男たち」or The Men Without Women, and it includes six new stories, all of which were first published in the last six months.
While Murakami’s novels are always published in English within a year or so of their initial publication (the next one, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, will come out this year), his short story collections are not usually published in English. That is, the publishers usually make their own collections, such as in the case of The Elephant Vanishes (17 stories spanning the 1980s, and published 12 years later in Japanese as「象の消滅」). The Chinese publishers seem to do the same thing. The difference is that the Chinese publishers will take a well-known story, make it the title of a collection, and publish it with a bunch of lesser-known stories. The English-language publishers seem to publish fewer, larger collections and simply don’t bother to translate and print the lesser-known stories. Thus, I surmise that this book may never come out in English as The Men Without Women. Fans who don’t read Japanese will have to wait for the next short story collection.
As for the title, I translate it as The Men Without Women rather than Men Without Women (or Men Whose Women Are Gone, etc.) because otoko tachi (rather than simply otoko) seems to refer to specific men. Indeed, in each of these six stories, the protagonist is a man without a woman. However, it is probably not a coincidence that Ernest Hemingway published a collection of ten short stories about men in 1927, called Men Without Women, and the name of that book in Japanese translation is—you guessed it—Onna no inai otoko tachi. It was translated by Ayukawa Nobuo in 1982, just when Murakami was beginning his writing career.
The Japanese Wikipedia page includes some trivia about the new book. Apparently, it is usual that it does not include a preface. The two stories “Drive My Car” and “Yesterday” were supposedly altered somehow before publication in the book, and “Drive My Car” has already been translated and published in Korean by Yang Eog-gwan (梁億寬).
Below are the front and back covers of the book, with English translations of the story titles, descriptions, and dates/places of publication. All translations are mine, and thus later publications may make different choices.
The Men Without Women
First issue April 20th, 2014
[His] short story world for the first time in nine years.
That story is
And exceeds expectations.
Bungei Shunju publication / Fixed price (JPY 1574 + tax)
Six stories that intertwine and echo.
“Drive My Car”
Bungei Shunju Dec. 2013
Stage actor Kafuku hires Misaki, a female driver. Why did his deceased wife have to have a relationship with that man? Little by little, he began to tell Misaki.
Bungei Shunju Jan. 2014
What is the strange “cultural exchange” proposed by his classmate Kitaru, from Den-en-chōfu but who can speak perfect Kansai dialect? And then, 16 years passed.
Bungei Shunju Mar. 2014
What did his friend, the confirmed bachelor Dr. Tokai, obtain for the first time by sacrificing his life?
MONKEY Vol. 2 Spring 2014
Shut up in the “house” that is a lonely island on land, Habara is toyed with by the story that even the world finds captivating, told by the “contact person” woman after the affair.
Bungei Shunju Feb. 2014
Betrayed by his wife, Kino quit his job and opened a bar. Then at certain times, a strange presence would envelop the place.
“The Men Without Women”
First published here
One night after midnight, a phone call from his former lover’s husband came to deliver sad news.
It was after that I felt a boredom I had never before experienced. At first I didn’t know why; later I thought it’s always such that when a person’s convictions receive praise it spurs their progress; receive opposition and it spurs their struggle. Only when screaming among strangers, when those strangers do not react—at once no praise, and no opposition—as if finding oneself placed on and endless wasteland, with no recourse at all: what sadness is this! Thus I assumed what I was felt was loneliness.
– Lu Xun, Preface to Nahan [Outcry/A Call to Arms] (1922)
I always come back to reading Lu Xun. He was too influential to overlook and too good to want to. His writing is clear and straightforward and sometimes I get the illusion he is writing in the present day, like I do reading Natsume Soseki. Lu Xun reminds me of Soseki in his mix of earnestness and satire; there I times I laugh out loud reading The True Story of Ah-Q or I Am a Cat. Another interesting connection I’ve noted is the number of Japanese words in Lu Xun’s writing, such as 便當 ‘convenient’ and 卒業 ‘to graduate.’ I don’t know whether these words were common in some register of Chinese and later fell out of use, or if Lu Xun borrowed them from Japanese, or both.
In any case, Lu Xun presents himself in the self-written preface to Nahan as a lonely idealist hoping to change minds but feeling lost. He tries to lose himself in copying ancient engravings until a friend persuades him to write a little something for a magazine called The New Youth. What he wrote became A Madman’s Diary and the rest is history.
NB: The translation above is mine.
Below I have translated a Tang Dynasty poem in Classical Chinese, supposedly by a famed courtesan Du Qiuniang, that is included in the Three Hundred Tang Poems. According to Wikipedia in Chinese, the poet Du Mu met Du Qiuniang in her old age and wrote a poem called “The Song of Du Qiuniang.” The preface includes the poem I have translated below, which later readers have interpreted as the work of Du Qiuniang herself.
I entreat you, do not covet that gold-threaded gown,
I entreat you to covet the time of your youth.
Flowers bloom and then are to be plucked,
Do not wait to pluck at a flowerless branch.
My dear, covet not that gold-threaded gown,
Hold fast to the days of your youth.
Flowers in bloom are ripe for picking,
Pluck not at a flowerless branch.
NB: There is a much better English translation by Andrew W.F. Wong available on his blog Classical Chinese Poems in English.
It’s almost the New Year in China. On February 10, the world will enter the Year of the Snake. It’s thus spring break in China, so I came trough Japan and arrived in Seattle today where I will transfer to Atlanta.
The writer Nagai Kafū studied abroad in Shanghai and arrived in Tacoma by boat from Shanghai in 1903. In 1908 he published his Amerika monogatari, or American Stories. It seems he encountered brazen racism in American and didn’t altogether enjoy his time here, though he liked the theatre in New York. Did you know a Japanese writer wrote stories about America in 1908?
“Zhuangzi” 莊子 is a supposedly Classical (pre-Qin Dynasty) Chinese text we know from a “copy” (possibly a wholesale rewriting) made by Guo Xiang 郭象, a Western Jin Dynasty writer who lived in the 3rd Century. It was supposedly written by someone named “Zhang Zhou” or his “disciples,” though whether such a person had disciples or even existed at all is unknown. The text is supposedly a central part of a religion called “Taoism,” but scholars disagree on it’s importance in the various religious practices and groups spanning two thousand years that scholars label with the umbrella term “Taoism” (which might basically be synonymous with “indigenous (non-Buddhist or Muslim) Chinese religion”). The above disclaimer aside, “Zhuangzi” is an interesting text that is often quoted in China today. I will share a small piece below
眾人役役，聖人愚芚，參萬歲而一成純。萬物盡然，而以是相蘊。予惡乎知說生之非惑邪！予惡乎知惡死之非弱喪而不知歸者邪！麗之姬，艾封人之子也。晉國之始得之也，涕泣沾襟；及其至於王所，與王同筐床，食芻豢，而後悔其泣也。予惡乎知夫死者不悔其始之蘄生乎！夢飲酒者，旦而哭泣；夢哭泣者，旦而田獵。方其夢也，不知其夢也。夢之中又占其夢焉，覺而後知其夢也。且有大覺而後知此其大夢也，而愚者自以為覺，竊竊然知之。君乎，牧乎，固哉！《莊子 • 齊物論12》
“Zhuangzi” on the Dislike of Death
“Men in general bustle about and toil; the sagely man seems stupid and to know nothing. He blends ten thousand years together in the one (conception of time); the myriad things all pursue their spontaneous course, and they are all before him as doing so. How do I know that the love of life is not a delusion? and that the dislike of death is not like a young person’s losing his way, and not knowing that he is (really) going home? Li Ji was a daughter of the border Warden of Ai. When (the ruler of) the state of Jin first got possession of her, she wept till the tears wetted all the front of her dress. But when she came to the place of the king, shared with him his luxurious couch, and ate his grain-and-grass-fed meat, then she regretted that she had wept. How do I know that the dead do not repent of their former craving for life? Those who dream of (the pleasures of) drinking may in the morning wail and weep; those who dream of wailing and weeping may in the morning be going out to hunt. When they were dreaming they did not know it was a dream; in their dream they may even have tried to interpret it; but when they awoke they knew that it was a dream. And there is the great awaking, after which we shall know that this life was a great dream. All the while, the stupid think they are awake, and with nice discrimination insist on their knowledge; now playing the part of rulers, and now of grooms.” — “The Adjustment of Controversies” in “Zhuangzi” (trans. James Legge)
“A Tree That Took Flight”
At the plain’s edge
Right at the cliff over the valley
Stood a tree we wished at for good luck
Watching our comings and goings
That tree towered over us all
Its bark was rubbed smooth
Where small hands could reach
Inside it was too tangled to fathom
Once the wind howled
And at the dawn’s light
That tree was nowhere to be found