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Murakami into English: A Translation Workshop

Murakami into English: A Translation Workshop


By Anna Zielinska-Elliot

Description: Millions of us have enjoyed reading something by one of the world’s bestselling authors, Haruki Murakami. Most of us have read him in translation, though – and may have wondered how Murakami in English differs from Murakami in Japanese. What gets lost in the translation of his novels and short stories? What is gained? What has changed and how did it change? This workshop will provide answers to these and related questions as we explore the challenges of translating modern Japanese literature through a focus on Murakami. We will look at a few passages done by different translators and compare them to the originals to see what has changed, what’s (more or less) the same, and what has been added. We will also discuss the distinctive voices of Murakami’s four English translators – Alfred Birnbaum, Jay Rubin, Phil Gabriel, and Ted Goossen – and examine the role of publishers and editors in producing a Murakami considered fit for American consumption.


No knowledge of Japanese is required for this workshop. Using simple glosses, and with guidance from the instructor, participants will try their hand at translating Murakami themselves, and will come away with a refined appreciation both of the art of translation and of the art of Murakami.

Instructor: Dr. Anna Zielinska-Elliot is a translator of modern Japanese literature into Polish. Best known for her translations of Murakami Haruki, she has also translated Mishima Yukio and Yoshimoto Banana. She is the author of a Polish-language monograph on gender in Murakami’s writing Haruki Murakami and the Actors in His Theater of Imagination, a literary guidebook to Murakami’s Tokyo, and several articles on Murakami and European translation practices relating to contemporary Japanese fiction. She is a Master Lecturer in Japanese and Director of the BU Translation Initiative at Boston University.


Cost: $30

Advance registration required by Friday, March 22, 2019.

SPACE IS LIMITED to the first 20 PARTICIPANTS to register.