“Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman” by Haruki Murakami, translated by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel, Vintage Books, London, 2007. (A Review)

sheep 2015After summer trip to Japan, I was smashed by the incomparable Japanese author Haruki Murakami. Murakami’s world is one of imagination. In his world, he can make mundane seem surreal and the surreal seem mundane.

But I think there is an echo of longing and loneliness in his work. “The year of Spaghetti” is in my mind the best. “Firefly” is also one of the best for me. I was reading it over lunch break and I was nodding off in some parts, but I don’t get lost (amazingly). It talks about young love, love lost, letting go. I like the metaphor on the firefly. I don’t want to spoil it by rambling on the story, so just read it for yourself:

“I opened the lid of the jar, took out the firefly and put it on the edge of the water tower that stuck out an inch or two. It seemed as if the firefly couldn’t grasp where it was. After making one bumbling circuit of a bolt, it stretched out one leg on top of a scab of loose paint. It tried to go to the right but, reaching a dead end, went back to the left. Slowly it clambered on top of the bolt and crouched there for a time, motionless, more dead than alive.

Leaning against the railing, I gazed at the firefly. For a long ti,e the two of us sat there without moving. Onlythe wind, like a stream, brushed past us. In the dark of the countless leaves of the zelkova rustled, rubbing against each other.

I waited for ever.

A long time later, the firefly took off…

Long after the firefly disappeared, the traces of its light remained within me. In the thick dark behind my closed eyes that faint light, like some lost wandering spirit, continued to roam.

Again and again I stretched my hand out towards the darkness. But my fingers felt nothing. That tiny glow was always just out of reach.”

Beautifully translated without any of these awkward idioms and expressions typically found in a translation, kudos to Philip Gabriel and Jay Rubin.

Listen to: “Dance of the Fireflies”

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