Murakami sees a luminous force in a classic American novel translated “sad” – Books
Internationally renowned novelist Haruki Murakami, who recently translated the 1940 American classic “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” by Carson McCullers, recently spoke about the book’s significance to him, as well as the significance of its message on racism and poverty against the backdrop of recent social protests.
“Her keen observational power and brilliant writing make her a true genius,” Murakami, 71, said of McCullers, who wrote it as her first novel at the age of 23, during ‘an interview with Kyodo News.
McCullers, born in 1917 in the southern state of Georgia in the United States, initially sought to become a pianist, but then turned to writing, learning her craft while taking on other jobs.
The story takes place in a city in the Great South at the end of the 1930s, where a black doctor fighting discrimination and an anarchist indignant at capitalism are confronted with the incomprehension of the society.
A young girl who carries a secret world in her heart and a cafe owner who harbors an affection for her both find it impossible to express their innermost feelings.
A deaf-mute man, who listens silently while others tell him their stories of hardship, is finally overcome with despair.
“It is an extremely sad story. But although a way out never appears, there is still something heartwarming. I was extremely impressed by this,” said Murakami.
He also liked that the city was “a small universe” in itself.
The Japanese author says he appreciates Southern writers such as William Faulkner, with their keen eye for detail and critical perspective. He said he learned a lot from them, including writing about people, and that they influenced him as much as F. Scott Fitzgerald, the acclaimed author of “The Great Gatsby”.
Murakami read McCullers’ book at the age of 20, when student movements were rampant across most of the world in the late 1960s and into the 1970s.
If he was not put off by the politically charged nature of the novel, he kept his distance from the movements, unlike his peers.
Lover of books which attached great importance to individualism, he felt close to the protagonists of “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”, who also had difficulty forming links with others.
Half a century later, Murakami is worried about how his Japanese readers may view the translated novel.
“We thought at the time that if we did our best the world would become a better place,” said Murakami, referring to his youth. “But that didn’t happen. The gap between the rich and the poor has only widened. If we asked young people now, ‘Do you think the world will be better?’ I think that hardly anyone would answer ‘Yes’, “he said.
But the novel coronavirus pandemic and other events have given the world an opportunity to reassess current standards, he added.
“Among other things, Black Lives Matter and the protests for democracy in Hong Kong are definitely creating a movement towards values yet to be integrated into society. I hope to act in concert with these calls for change,” he said. .
Speaking of the rise of the BLM movement, Murakami said: “Currently, racism is not enforced by a fully visible system. But it has become internalized, making it partly invisible and further increasing frustration.”
“In the end, maybe the core of society has changed very little since the late 1930s when McCullers’ book was finished and now,” he said.
However, Murakami makes a clear distinction between this message and the story.
“‘The Heart is a Lonely Hunter’ is a story. It doesn’t say that there is hope. On the contrary, the book ends in a way where only despair can prevail, but even so, it leaves readers with something shining in their hearts. I wanted to believe in the strength of the story, translate it and send it as a book, “he said.
“For a long time, I thought that a novelist only had to write novels,” he said. But his belief changed as he got older.
“Without a strong message and a strong story, there is no effect. What we writers do are mostly stories, but these need to be completed. That’s why I am getting involved. in different forms to send the message, ”he said.
For the past two years, Murakami has been active as a disc jockey on his show “Murakami Radio”. In May, in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic, when most people were staying at home, he encouraged listeners through his show “Music for a Brighter Tomorrow” recorded from his home study.
“I may sound arrogant, but mostly I can write what I want to write about now,” he said of his changing beliefs about writing novels.
Describing himself as a person who “prefers to achieve a result through persistent and gradual efforts,” Murakami said: “At first I couldn’t write well what I wanted to write well, so I took detours, bringing different elements and styles in my writing. “
“This has led everyone to describe me as ‘pop'” or a pop culture phenomenon, “said the author of many popular works such as” A Wild Sheep Chase “and” Norwegian Wood. “
“But maybe when I wrote 1Q84, I realized I could write whatever I wanted to write about. I persevered for 40 years to forge my own path, but I think maybe I can start to relax, ”he said.
He pointed out that translating the works of others played a big role in developing his writing skills.
“I learned a lot of important things by translating many books written in English. And I continue to learn. It is my greatest joy to have finished translating this important book to which I am so attached”, a- he declared.
He said he was waiting to see how young readers would react to a story that had impressed him so much.