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~Chinese / 中文

~Japanese / 日本語

"Notes on Democracy" Arundhati Roy

~Korean / 한국어
《그렇습니까? 기린입니다》박민규
《소나기》 황순원

~Finished / 読了 / 已读
"Factory Girls" Lesley Chang
"Your Republic is Calling You" Kim Young-ha
"River Town" Peter Hessler
"Oracle Bones" Peter Hessler
"Country Driving" Peter Hessler
「火の鳥9」 手塚治虫
"Inside the Kingdom" Robert Lacey
"A Room of One's Own" Virginia Woolf
《倾城之恋 》张爱玲
「1973年のピンボール」 村上春樹
"One Foot In Eden" Ron Rash

Murakami Haruki’s New Novel Due Feb 2017 – Here’s how to get updates 

Publisher Shinchōsha has announced Murakami Haruki is going to publish a new novel in Feb 2017.

Promotional image from Shinchōsha’s website


The image says:

Murakami Haruki

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.”

– Fill in your email in both boxes.

– Click the black button. It says “Send.”

That’s it!

I’ll aim to publish the updates here as they come out.


Other sources:

The Hindu

Murakami Haruki’s new book: “The Men Without Women”  

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.

Last month I got my preordered copy of The Men Without Women (Japanese: Onna no inai otoko tachi) at Kinokuniya New York. It’s available for purchase online here for $24.50.

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).

Edit: The story “Sheherazade” was published in the Oct. 13 issue of The New Yorker and translated by Ted Gossen, a professor at York University in Toronto.

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.


Front cover

Onna no inai otoko tachi - Murakami Haruki (Copyright 2014)

Onna no inai otoko tachi – Murakami Haruki (Copyright 2014)



The Men Without Women

First issue April 20th, 2014


Murakami Haruki,

[His] short story world for the first time in nine years.

That story is

Deeper, sharper,

And exceeds expectations.


Bungei Shunju publication / Fixed price (JPY 1574 + tax)


Back cover

Onna no inai otoko tachi (Back cover) - Murakami Haruki (Copyright 2014)

Onna no inai otoko tachi (Back cover) – Murakami Haruki (Copyright 2014)


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.


“Independent Organ”

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.

Onna no inai otoko tachi - Murakami Haruki (Copyright 2014)

Onna no inai otoko tachi – Murakami Haruki (Copyright 2014)

How Korean grammar differs from Japanese: Negation

Hangugeo and Chosonmal, both of which mean 'Korean language,' written in hangul.

Hangugeo and Chosonmal, both of which mean ‘Korean language,’ written in hangul.

Korean grammar and Japanese grammar have a lot in common. They both use SOV word order and lots of particles; distinguish between “noun-adjectives” and “verb-adjectives”; don’t conjugate for plural, gender, or number; and are agglutinative (meaning they form structures by combining discrete parts with distinct meanings). However, Korean grammar is not exactly the same as Japanese grammar. For instance, negation is different.

In Japanese, verbs (and verb-adjectives) are negated by conjugation. (Strictly speaking, this could also be considered suffixation.) A verb nai that means ‘to not exist’ or ‘is not’ is added after a verb stem.


For example:


Verb:                         iku ‘to go’ or ‘[I/you/he/she/it] goes/is going/will go’

Verb stem:                  ik

Negative:                     nai ‘is not; does not exist’

Negated verb:             ikanai ‘to not go’ or ‘doesn’t go/isn’t going,’ etc.

Example:                    kare wa Tokyo ni ikanai ‘He isn’t going to Tokyo [with the rest of us].’


Korean can also conjugate verbs in this way. A verb anta that means ‘to not do’ can be added to the end of a verb. However, in Korean this is not the most colloquial or common way to make it verbs. The most common way to negate verbs is to add an adverb an ‘not’ before the verb.


For example:

Verb:                            gada ‘to go’

Verb stem:                   ga

Negative:                     an

Negated verb:             an + ga + ayo [present tense] = angayo ‘[I/you/he/she/it] doesn’t go’


Alternately, and less commonly:

Negative verb: anta ‘does not do’

Negative stem:            an

Negated verb: gaji + an + ayo = gaji anayo ‘doesn’t go’


NB: The formal form gaji an sumnida is much more natural. Adding anta to conjugate verbs is more formal than using an, but not formal enough for most formal situations, so gaji anayo is rarely heard, according to Lesson 21 of Talk to Me in Korean (TTMIK). I’ve been using TTMIK audio lessons to learn Korean.

Japanese and Korean grammar are similar, but not the same. Besides negation, can you think of any other differences?


Why Did Europe Dominate?

It’s a troubling question for many. All individuals, individual cultures, and peoples are equal, but why did Europe dominate for so many centuries? Today at Fudan University, James J. O’Donnell, University Professor at Georgetown University, gave the third in a series of guest lectures on “Ancient History in the Modern Age.” He spoke about how the exclusivity of Christianity influenced the development of European thought, and how Europe “turned away” from the variety of human experience they found in the Age of Discovery.


After the lecture, a student asked, “What is the secret of the Europeans, that they can attract the attention of the whole world to follow them?”


O’Donnell’ answered, “Western ‘success’ has three factors, none of which were necessary. One is that there was an ancient civilization in the Mediterranean than was quite successful and well developed, so certain basic levels of economy and society and organization were achieved.

Second, Western Europe turns out to be geographically and in climate a good place for people with not much technology to live and prosper. Farming and shipping and trade and communication were possible for people with limited technology in ways that were more difficult for people in the Middle East and Africa and Central Asia, where the climate was different and it wasn’t so possible for simple farmers to be so successful.

And third, there is an element of chance and accident here. Moveable type and oceangoing travel were invented in China but they were decisively implemented and made use of in Western Europe, and so the great revolutions of the 15th, 16th, and 17th Centuries, in which westerners took a lead… happened in that part of the world, and gave an advantage to that part of the world. I believe that advantage is now expired and that the technologies of the last century put all of humankind on a more equal footing and essentially all societies with a certain level of industrialization and advancement can be successful.

“I spoke last time of my thought experiment, that maybe the west will continue to dominate, maybe China will dominate, or in my example maybe Brazil and Latin America will dominate. Since my last lecture [on Tuesday] we now have a Latin American Pope, that’s a first invention; Brazil is succeeding economically, maybe in 300 years Latin America will take advantage of its opportunities to become the most advanced society in the world. I think we are at a period in which it is no longer clear the west will continue to dominate, as it was probably clear a hundred years ago that the west had to dominate for a while longer. We’ll see.” (Recorded 2013.03.14 at Fudan University, Shanghai)

In Kyoto’s Imperial Palace

Dear Readers,

In July I traveled to Japan and spent a month going south along the coast, on what was once the Tokaido Road, today the Tokaido Railway. When I reached Osaka, I made a detour to go north to see Kyoto, the former imperial capital of Japan. I had heard of the imperial palace in Kyoto, and I imagined the palace would be something like the Ottoman palace in Istanbul, or the Forbidden City in Beijing. That is, I imagined a tour through myriad rooms with splendid objects. When I arrived at the palace, I found this preconception was much mistaken.

First of all, the imperial palace today remains an imperial palace. The Emperor of Japan resides in the palace on his visits to Kyoto, and the palace remains a place for receiving important visitors. Therefore, you can’t just walk up to the imperial palace and buy tickets. Entrance is free, but you must sign up in advance for a tour at a specified time and place.

In Heian times, the emperor resided in a true palace built at a location determined by Chinese astrology and rebuilt after every fire. However, a custom developed in which the emperor would live in the houses of great nobles, and over time the palace fell into disuse, and after it burned down some 800 years ago was never rebuilt. The current Kyoto imperial palace was thus once the home of a great noble. The palace burned down in the late Edo period and was immediately rebuilt in the same historicizing style. After the capital and the emperor moved to Edo (Tokyo) in the late 1800s, the palace fell into disrepair for a spell before the emperor ordered it restored. The large complex is today mostly gardens. The heart of the complex, where the emperor lived, is the palace I visited.

I took the Japanese tour. Unfortunately, we were not able to enter any of the buildings or approach the main hall, but I enjoyed a walk through the grounds where the imperial court made history.

Below are my photos of the palace.

– KM

















Kieran Maynard

Kieran Maynard

Writer, translator, researcher, traveler specializing in Japanese and Chinese literature.

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