During Japanese Literature Week in Ha Noi (December 26 to January 8), Japanese books will be promoted at seminars, film screenings and exhibitions.

The grand opening will be held at 10am at the Japan Foundation Centre for Cultural Exchange in Viet Nam, kicking the event off with the awards ceremony of a fan fiction contest.

The nationwide contest, which opened on November 4, asked Vietnamese readers to create fan fiction based on works by prestigious Japanese authors such as Haruki Murakami, Banana Yoshimoto, Ogawa Yoko and Higashino Keigo.

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Two of the most successful Japanese novels of the past few years that have been translated into English are Hiromi Kawakami’s “The Briefcase” and Fuminori Nakamura’s “Last Winter, We Parted.” Both were translated by Allison Markin Powell, a literary translator and editor based in New York: The Japan Times

Translating, like writing, is a solitary job and interaction with the writer is limited. “For “Last Winter, We Parted” I had a handful of questions for Nakamura after the editing process, questions about the language or specific items that appear in the book that I may not understand or recognize,” she says. “But I’ve translated books by people such as Osamu Dazai. You can’t ask Dazai any questions. To be honest I don’t really see the author as more or less of an authority on their book from a translation perspective.”

Some writers would disagree.

Haruki MurakamiNovelist Haruki Murakami sent a message of encouragement to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters in an acceptance speech at an awards ceremony in Berlin, comparing them to former East Germany residents confined by the Berlin Wall and Palestinians trapped by the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Murakami is the first Japanese author to win the Welt Literature Prize (Welt Literaturpreis) from German newspaper Die Welt since the award was established in 1999.

Three days before the winner is announced, novelist shares odds of 4/1 with Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, while Belarusian journalist Svetlana Alexievich is third favourite at 7/1: The Guardian

MurakamiWith just three days to go before the 2014 Nobel prize for literature is awarded, Haruki Murakami and the Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o are joint favourites to win the literary world’s greatest honour.

The Swedish Academy announced this morning that the winner of the literature Nobel would be revealed on Thursday 9 October at 1pm CET (noon BST). Ladbrokes, which has frequently seen the eventual victor surge to the top of its odds in the days before the announcement, said today that Ngũgĩ and Murakami were, at 4/1, joint favourites to win Thursday’s eight million kronor (£693,000) prize.

Haruki Murakami: ‘I’m an outcast of the Japanese literary world. Critics, writers, many of them don’t like me’, says the cult novelist

Haruki MurakamiAsked to name some of his favourite writers working today, Murakami enthuses about Kazuo Ishiguro (“I think he dedicates himself to the writing … When he’s not writing he goes around the world, but when he’s writing he goes nowhere”), Cormac McCarthy (“always riveting”), and the Norwegian novelist Dag Solstad, whom he is currently translating into Japanese from English (“He’s a kind of surrealistic writer, very strange novels. I think that’s serious literature”). As he has translated Raymond Chandler, I ask him about modern crime writers too. “I like Lee Child,” he announces decisively, and laughs. So do I, I say. “Oh you like him? That’s good! So far I have read 10 of them.” What do you like about them? He moves his hands in the air as though running his fingers over an invisible piano keyboard, and grins. “Everything’s the same!”

Haruki MurakamiFor author and character, the book is a story of a life examined and reclaimed. Tsukuru seeks out his friends at the urging of a woman he has started dating. Murakami said he began “Colorless Tsukuru” around three years ago as a work of short fiction, but soon found himself caught up in Tsukuru’s mystery. The author didn’t know at first why Tsukuru’s friends had abandoned him and he expanded the narrative as a way of finding out.

“I had to know his past,” Murakami said. “I’m making it up and at the same time I’m finding it.”

Haruki Murakami displays vintage form in his latest novel, but loses the plot in the end, says Srikanth S: Tehelka

MurakamiHaruki Murakami has nothing left to prove. He is the most widely read Japanese novelist of his generation. One of those rare writers whose works consistently garner both critical acclaim and mass appeal in equal measure. The reclusive author’s popularity can be gauged by the fact that the latest editions of his novels advertise only his surname (Wonder what his close friend and fellow author Ryū — who shares the same family name — has to say about that).

ColorlessVery few writers reach the stage of being able to include in their books wry references to their failure to win the Nobel prize in literature. But, in Bech at Bay (1998), John Updike awarded his authorial surrogate, Henry Bech, the Swedish medal and cheque that Updike feared (correctly, it proved) he was doomed never to win himself. And now the 14th work of fiction by Haruki Murakami, a Nobel favourite in recent years among the bookmakers but not the judges, features a young physics student lamenting that few in his profession make much money unless they “win the Nobel prize or something”.