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Translated Lit

Why Haruki Murakami Translated ‘The Great Gatsby’

The great Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami once translated The Great Gatsby for Japanese readers. In Columbia University Press’ In Translation: Translators on Their Work and What It Means anthology, you can read an essay he wrote about translating the book.

We’ve embedded the complete essay below. Murakami expressed his love for the novel, but also gave readers a peek into how he used his “imaginative powers as a novelist into play.” Just in time for the upcoming movie adaptation, read his thoughts about F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s novel. Here is an excerpt:

When someone asks, “Which three books have meant the most to you?” I can answer without having to think: The Great GatsbyFyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, and Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye. All three have been indispensable to me (both as a reader and as a writer); yet if I were forced to select only one, I would unhesitatingly choose Gatsby. Had it not been for Fitzgerald’s novel, I would not be writing the kind of literature I am today (indeed, it is possible that I would not be writing at all, although that is neither here nor there) … Though slender in size for a full-length work, it served as a standard and a fixed point, an axis around which I was able to organize the many coordinates that make up the world of the novel.

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Finnish Translator Only Gets Three Weeks to Work on J.K. Rowling Novel

Otava, the Finnish publisher of J.K. Rowling‘s adult novel The Casual Vacancy, will only give the translator three weeks to work on the project. On top of this deadline, the translator will not be able to read the book prior to the English version’s September 27th release.

Translator Jill Timbers wrote a guest post on the blog Intralingo protesting Otava’s decisions. The Finnish publisher plans to make its version available in time for the Christmas shopping season. They also hope to thwart Finnish readers from purchasing the English edition.

According to Three Percent, Jaana Kapari (who translated the Harry Potter series from English to Finnish) refused to take on this project due to Otava’s strict constraints.

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Saddam Hussein’s Daughter Hopes to Publish His Handwritten Memoir

Saddam Hussein‘s eldest daughter, Raghad Saddam Hussein, hopes to publish her late father’s memoir.

According to her attorney, the former Iraqi dictator wrote the book by hand. As an author, Hussein published several poems and four novels including Zabibah and the King, The Fortified Castle, Men and the City and Begone, Demons.

Here’s more from Al Arabiya: “It is noteworthy that lawyer Khalil al-Delimi, head of Saddam Hussein’s defense team, released in October 2009 a 480-page book under the title Saddam Hussein from the American Cell: What Really Happened. The book, written in Arabic, was based on dozens of interviews Delimi conducted with the late president while he was detained by the American occupation prior to his trial and execution. The book also includes poems and letters written by Saddam Hussein. ‘”

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Wiesław Mysliwski Wins Best Translated Book Award for Fiction

Wiesław Mysliwski’s Stone Upon Stone (translated by Bill Johnston) has won the Best Translated Book Award for fiction. The poetry prize went to Kiwao Nomura’s Spectacle & Pigsty translated by Kyoko Yoshida and Forrest Gander)

The annual award is offered by Three Percent at the University of Rochester, honoring “the best original works of international literature and poetry published in the U.S. over the previous year.” The winning translators and writers will share a $20,000 award donated by Amazon.

Here’s more about Mysliwski’s novel: “Stone Upon Stone—his first work to be translated into English—is narrated by Syzmek, a Polish farmer determined to build a tomb for himself after a life of boozing, brawling, fighting in the resistance, serving as a marriage officer, and exaggerating his way through the twentieth century and the modernization of his small town … This is the second book published by Archipelago, the Brooklyn-based nonprofit press, to win the award. (Attila Bartis’s Tranquility won in 2009.)”

2011 Best Translated Book Award Winners Revealed

The winners of this year’s Best Translated Book Awards have been revealed. Writers and translators will each receive $5000 as prize money.

Aleš Šteger’s Slovenian collection, The Book of Things, won in the poetry category; Brian Henry served as translator. Tove Jansson’s Swedish novel, The True Deceiver, won in the fiction category; Thomas Teal served as translator.

According to Publishing Perspectives: This awards ceremony was held as a part of the PEN World Voices Festival. The awards’ co-founder Chad W. Post had this statement in the press release: “This festival is the premiere festival for international literature taking place in America today. And by highlighting two fantastic works of translated literature, the BTBA adds something special to the week-long festivities.”

Bi Feiyu Wins the 2010 Man Asian Literary Prize

Chinese novelist Bi Feiyu (pictured, via) has won the 2010 Man Asian Literary Prize for his novel, Three Sisters. The author accepted the award and $30,000 in prize money during a ceremony held in Hong Kong.

The novel’s translators, Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-chun Lin, split a $5,000 award. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt published an English translation of Three Sisters last August.

Here’s more from the press release: “The Man Asian Literary Prize was founded in 2007. It is an annual literary award given to the best novel by an Asian writer, either written in English or translated into English, and published in the previous calendar year. The judges choose a longlist of 10 to 15 titles announced in December, followed by a shortlist of 5 to 6 titles announced in February, and a winner is awarded in March.” (via Shelf Awareness)

Indian Comic Writer & Illustrator Uncle Pai Has Died

Indian comic writer and illustrator Anant Pai (known fondly as Uncle Pai) passed away this week at 81-years-old.

According to the Associated Press, Pai would’ve been presented with a lifetime achievement award at India’s first-ever Comic Con this weekend. The video embedded above features a tribute from a fan.

Uncle Pai began the popular Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) series in 1967 to teach Indian children about their culture and heritage. The series has spawned more than 400 titles and sold more than 100 million comics.

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Fan Translates 139,000-Word Russian Rewrite of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

In 1999, Russian scientist Kirill Yeskov wrote The Last Ring-Bearer, a 139,000-word novel that re-wrote The Lord of the Rings trilogy–re-imagining J.R.R. Tolkien‘s heroic epic as a bloody war with unrecorded consequences. Now Yisroel Markov has released a translation of the novel (with Yeskov’s help).

The translator explained his his labor of love (published for non-commercial distribution only): “Several publishing houses have considered a commercial translation of this book, which had been published in several major European languages, but abandoned the idea out of fear of the Tolkien estate, which rigidly controls all derivative works, especially in English.”

In the 15-year-old book, Yeskov re-wrote Tolkien’s masterpiece from the point of view of  Mordor, a region defeated in the war to control Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings. It focused on a single question: “what was that war really about?”

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Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 Coming 10/25 in Single Volume

Knopf publicity director Paul Bogaards revealed that Haruki Murakami‘s highly anticipated three-volume novel will come out October 25 in a single volume.

Here’s the tweet: “Haruki Murakami’s long-awaited magnum opus, 1Q84, out from Knopf 10/25. In one volume. Booyah! Midnight store openings for this one?”

In an interview last year, translator Jay Rubin shared thoughts about working with the novelist–revealing the impending deadlines for the English translation of Murakami’s three-volume novel. (Via Michael Orthofer)

Carlos Fuentes Explores His ‘Dickensian’ Novel

A New York Times review once described Carlos Fuentes’ work as “Joycean in Christopher Unborn, Jamesian in Aura, Faulknerian in The Death of Artemio Cruz.” Now we can add “Dickensian” to that list of influences.

Before his 92Y reading tonight, the novelist explored the influence of Charles Dickens in his new novel. Fuentes (pictured, via) recently published the English version of his novel, Destiny and Desire (La Voluntad y la Fortuna in Spanish, translated by Edith Grossman).

Q: What can you tell me about your new book?

A: It’s called Destiny and Desire. It’s basically a Cain and Abel story; that is the larger frame of the book. It’s two brothers who love each other and hate each other in the end. They’re called Jericó and Josué. That is the larger frame of the book.

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