HARUKI MURAKAMI TRANSLATES ‘SAD’ US CLASSIC INTO JAPANESE
The internationally acclaimed novelist Haruki Murakami, who recently translated the 1940 American classic "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" by Carson McCullers into Japanese, recently spoke about the book's meaning to him, as well as the import of its message about racism and poverty against the backdrop of recent social protests, Sahara Suzuki wrote for Kyodo news service late on October 3, 2020.
"Her acute power of observation and brilliant writing makes her a true genius," Murakami, 71, said of McCullers, who wrote it as her debut novel when she was 23 years old, during an interview with Kyodo News. McCullers, born in 1917 in the southern state of Georgia in the United States, had initially sought to become a pianist but later turned to writing, learning her craft while working at other jobs.
The story takes place in a town in the Deep South in the late 1930s, where a black doctor fighting discrimination and an anarchist indignant at capitalism are confronted with society's lack of understanding. A young girl who carries a secret world in her heart and a cafe owner who harbors affection for her both find it impossible to express their innermost feelings. A deaf-mute man, who wordlessly listens as others bring him their stories of hardships, is ultimately overwhelmed by hopelessness.
"It is an extremely sad story. But although a way out never appears, something heart-warming remains. I was extremely impressed by that," Murakami said. He also liked that the town is "a small universe" unto itself. The Japanese author says he appreciates Southern writers like William Faulkner, with their keen eye for detail and critical standpoint. He said that he learned much from them, including writing about people, and that they influenced him as much as F. Scott Fitzgerald, the acclaimed author of the "The Great Gatsby."