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review 2017-01-17 16:09
Wind/Pinball: Two Novels by Haruki Murakami; Translated by Ted Goossen
Wind/Pinball: Two novels - Ted Goossen,Haruki Murakami

Being a lover of Japanese literature, and books in general, I've always wanted to give Haruki Murakami's books a try. I've heard nothing but praise for his works so I thought I should give all his works a read. This is a bit of a personal project I've bestowed upon myself: To read at least one Murakami book a month. And, I thought, what better way to start than from the two first novels he's ever written! Well, I have to say that we are not off to a good start.

 

Hear the Wind Sing is his very first novel and it shows. Nothing much happens in this book. It's about an unnamed narrator and his best friend, the Rat, and what they do during a summer the narrator has off from college. But really, all they do is spend it drinking at a bar, talking about women, and that's pretty much it. The narrator has a relationship with a woman who only has nine fingers and their dynamic was... bizarre. I didn't see how that woman found the narrator interesting or how she developed feelings for him. I say this because at the beginning of the book, she detested him. Then, almost over night, she starts to fancy him... what? Why? What did he do in order for her to toss her disdain for him out the window? It made no sense to me. On top of the unbelievable relationship, I was just bored reading it. Nothing really happens in the book. Just a bunch of guys drinking in a bar. I was waiting for something else to happen. Something more interesting. I thought it would happen with the relationship aspect of the book. But no. Nothing. The writing in this first book was also dull. There was no life to it. Basically, Murakami's first novel just wasn't for me.

 

The second novel, Pinball, 1973, was a bit better but not by much. This book takes place several years after the first. The unnamed narrator works for a translation business whilst his friend, the Rat, goes through his own problems with trying to find himself and understand what he wants to do with his life. I'll admit, I liked that aspect of the book quite a bit. At some point in our lives, we all start questioning what we want to do. Who we are. What shall become of us if we don't do something worthwhile. And being able to read and see that side of the Rat was pretty interesting. Also, the writing was a lot more lyrical. There were still plenty of dull patches here and there, but I can tell that Murakami was finding his style a lot more here. So his writing improved a bit! And the translator, Ted Goossen, did a fantastic job in portraying Murakami's meaning well! But that's where my praises end, sadly. The narrator was still so bland that I was still bored when reading about him and his obsession with pinball. Also, there were these twins that intrigued me. I wanted to learn more about them. Like where they came from and what was their purpose for moving in with the main character. But I got none of that. Their sole purpose was to make coffee and have sex with the narrator. That's it. In fact, that's all the women of this book did! The secretary at the translation office only cooked food and cleaned. That's it. The twins made food and had sex. That's it. I knew going in that Murakami tends to be a bit sexist in his novels, but it's so apparent in these two books! So even though I enjoyed this book more... it still wasn't enough to make me fall in love with Murakami as a writer.

 

Now, these are just his first two novels. You can tell they are early works and I know it's his later works that are highly praised so I'm not judging him too harshly. These two weren't for me but I shall continue reading his works to see if he's an author that I will enjoy. I still have hope so in February, I will be reading A Wild Sheep Chase and see how I get on with that one. Hopefully I enjoy it a lot more than his first two novels.

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review 2016-05-27 19:27
Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness by Nahoko Uehashi
Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness - Yuko Shimizu,Nahoko Uehashi,Cathy Hirano

Got my hands on the sequel to Morbito: Guardian of the Spirit since I loved it and the anime so much, I wanted to see what other adventures Balsa has gotten herself into.

 

I adored this book just as much as the first. Balsa is still the strong, intelligent badass as she was in the first. The new characters introduced had many layers to them as well. And I even enjoyed the plot. The only thing I questioned was Balsa's motivations throughout the entire book. It felt a bit... weak? ...I suppose that's the word I'm looking for. It just didn't really made a whole lot of sense as to why Balsa wanted to so badly "get revenge" for Jiguro when she never felt like that before. It came from out of no where. Basically, I do think the plot was slightly stronger in the first book but that didn't deter my enjoyment of this book.

 

Cathy Hirano did another fantastic job in translating this novel. Everything flowed so smoothly and the depictions were quite vivid from the descriptions given. I really enjoyed this world and the people who live in it.

 

It's a shame that the other novels in this series was never translated into English. I would have liked to have read them. Well, that's okay. I plan to track down the original Japanese version and read those. Once I do, I will most definitely be talking about them in the future! 

 

If you liked the first book, then I highly encourage you to pick up this one! It's just as good as the first! 

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review 2016-05-10 21:07
Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi
Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit - Nahoko Uehashi

A few years ago, I saw Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. I fell in love with it. The animation was amazing, the music incredible, the story unique, and the characters were well-developed. I fell in love with the main character Balsa. I thought she was so strong and courageous. Everything about that anime made me a fan of its world. It wasn't until a few years later I discovered it was originally a novel. Well, I finally got around to reading said novel and let me tell you I was not disappointed.

 

In fact, I was completely blown away! Once I finished reading the novel, I realized that the anime was faithful to the book! There was not a single thing left out. I was impressed. It's not often when an adaptation is extremely faithful to the source material. So, as you may have guessed, I love this book! Since everything is the same from the anime, the book just added that much more love that I already felt for this story.

 

Obviously, I cannot talk about the author's, Nahoko Uehashi, writing style since it was originally in Japanese and I read the English version. However, it was translated by Cathy Hirano and I think she did a great job. The writing didn't seem clunky to me one bit. The story flowed quite smoothly and the glossary added to the back of the book definitely helped. 

 

If you like fantasy, strong characters, and if you saw the anime and are wondering what the original story is like, then I highly recommend you read this book. It's a lot of fun and interesting diving into this magical world!

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review 2016-02-21 11:00
Eighty-Minute Memory: The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yōko Ogawa
Das Geheimnis der Eulerschen Formel - Yōko Ogawa,Sabine Mangold
The Housekeeper + The Professor - Yōko Ogawa,Stephen Snyder

The story of The Housekeeper and the Professor is that of the two characters already mentioned in the title plus the housekeeper’s ten-year-old son and the poetry of mathematics.

 

It begins in March 1992 when the narrator takes up her job as the professor’s housekeeper in a shabby back yard garden pavilion. The professor used to be a renowned mathematician until a car accident in 1975 left him with an eighty-minute memory. The housekeeper is intrigued by the professor’s capacity to see figures of everyday life in a mathematical light. One day she mentions her ten-year-old son and he insists that the boy comes to the pavilion after school to be in his mother’s care. It is the beginning of a strange friendship held together by the beauty of mathematics and the love for baseball.

 

For the full review please click here to go to my blog Edith’s Miscellany.

 

The Housekeeper + The Professor - Yōko Ogawa,Stephen Snyder 

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com
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url 2016-02-02 11:00
My Summary of the Japanese Literature Challenge 9

 

Have a look back with me on eight months of reading - among others - Japanese literature with Dolce Belezza - for literary and translated fiction on my main book blog Edith's Miscellany.

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com
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