Translations always stiffen a story — local settings blur into blank spots on a foreign map, characters are stripped of their cultural context, and a narrator’s conversation with a reader is distilled of comfortable connotations.
While I felt compelled to finish Haruki Murakami’s hyped novel, I skipped pages without missing much, and wondered why, if 1Q84Â gets Nobel Prize buzz, Stephen King hasn’t won plenty of Pulitzers. (Murakami’s device of name-dropping obscure symphonies and Russian lit would mean more if one was trying to get laid in a Brooklyn cafe, and the last Pirates of the Caribbean was harshly criticized, not high-fived, for having characters without clear motivation.)
Maybe I would have enjoyed 1Q84 more in its original Japanese.
Mostly as I can’t read Japanese…