Jay Rubin, best known as Haruki Murakami’s longtime English translator, is also a novelist in his own right. Last month, he published his debut The Sun Gods, about a Japanese-American couple who meet each other on the eve of World War II. In an interview with The Rumpus, he talks about Murakami, his new book and his interest in Japanese literature. You could also read Ben Dooley on Japanese cell phone novels.
“By three a.m., the seven of us had drunk a case of champagne, plus two additional bottles, followed by whiskey digestifs for the men. ‘They do this all the time,’ Pierre’s wife Chloe whispered to me in English at one point—dismissively, but without malice. As if to say, sure, Pierre’s relatives were lushes, but perhaps this was how life should be, inévitablement.” I doubt I have to tell you what city this all took place in.
The internet’s repository of Franz Kafka-inspired literary treats seems to have no bounds. This latest: his excellent short story “The Country Doctor” has been adapted by Japanese filmmaker Kōji Yamamura into a 20-minute animated film (subtitled). Kafka adaptations clearly aren’t going anywhere. Pair with our essay on the subtle art of rereading his most famous story.
Robert Darnton at the New York Review of Books considers the feasibility of creating a National Digital Library: “I know: the devil can cite Jefferson. Anyone can cull through the papers of the Founding Fathers in order to find quotations in support of a cause. But I can’t resist.”
Articles lamenting the supposed death of reading tend to include a gripe that we now spend too much time on the Internet. However, as those of you who read a lot of books and live partially on the Internet are aware, the two activities aren’t mutually exclusive. NPR’s Morning Edition has a new story (which includes our own Janet Potter discussing her rewriting of classic novel titles as click-bait headlines) about the intersection between the lit world and the meme world.
Discovery of the Week: Fairy tales are older than previously thought. Researchers have traced stories back to prehistoric and bronze age times. For example, Beauty and the Beast and Rumplestiltskin “can be securely traced back to the emergence of the major western Indo-European subfamilies as distinct lineages between 2,500 and 6,000 years ago.” Kirsty Logan writes about the problem with fairy tales.