So it turns out Haruki Murakami’s early novels, Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973, are being translated into English and released this August. As far as I know these books were translated once before, but to very limited releases. I saw a copy of Pinball, 1973 on Amazon’s second hand marketplace, but I couldn’t tell if it was in English, and it cost nearly three thousand pounds. So that was two good reasons not to buy it. As soon as I saw the re-release title listed on Amazon I hit the pre-order button, almost instinctively.
My first introduction to Murakami was in a computer games magazine. They had a one page feature every month on Japanese culture, and it ran a piece about his short story collection, After the Quake. I happened to see it the next time I was browsing in Ottakars bookshop (that’s how long ago that was) and then after reading that I picked up a copy of Norwegian Wood. I liked Norwegian Wood a lot, and a while later, when money was very tight and I wanted to buy a book, I decided to just buy something really chunky to get good a good pounds-to-hours ratio. I chose The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I read the first hundred pages and then stopped reading it. I’m not really sure why I stopped but one day I put it down and then didn’t pick it up again. It was harder work than Norwegian Wood had been, and a totally different sort of novel.
About a year later I gave it another go. I started from the beginning and this time is clicked with me. After that I read a lot of his books. There are still a few I haven’t read. I tend to save them for for when I really want them. (I think I have said this before on this blog but I had been saving Kafka on the Shore for just the right time, and I ended it up reading it after I had recovered from my brain haemorrhage. I didn’t know that was what I was saving it for, but it was just what I needed at that time.)
Murakami is a global phenomenon that no one I meet seems to have heard of. There are a few writers I can think of that have been incredibly personal to me, and my attempts to write. Murakami, at this point, is the most significant and so being able to look back at those very early works is really exciting. I seem to remember him saying that he didn’t want those books translated and re-released, as they weren’t good enough. I am not sure what I am going to get, but I know what I am hoping for. A rough, uncut, misformed precursor to the books that came later. Like scratchy recordings by a band before they got famous. I would love to find little hints of the writer he was going to become, hidden somewhere inside.