A tall man, Mukherjee, 57, talks in a slow, deliberate baritone. “I took to Japanese when I was in my 30s, I was already a lecturer at the engineering department here. I had an aptitude for languages, and soon I won a scholarship to visit Japan in 1997. A year later, I was offered the chance to teach at Kanazawa University in Ishikawa Prefecture,” says Mukherjee. During his year-long tenure there, he fell in love with Japanese culture. “They pursue aesthetics as a discipline. I find that fascinating,” says Mukherjee, who has been approved by Murakami to translate the novel.