Home > Lifestyle > Books > News
Sunday February 9, 2014 MYT 11:40:00 AM
Sunday February 9, 2014 MYT 11:43:59 AM
Haruki Murakami has suggested in a novella that people in a small Hokkaido town throw their cigarette butts from their car windows.
Author’s novella suggests people of Nakatonbetsu are litterers.
BEST-SELLING novelist Haruki Murakami expressed regret on Feb 7 over his portrayal of a small Japanese town in a new story, after a passage suggesting residents habitually throw cigarettes from car windows left locals fuming.
The remote town of Nakatonbetsu on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido said on Feb 5 that it wanted an explanation from the publisher over how it allowed such a description to pass through an editor’s desk.
The offending passage appeared in the new 24-page novella, entitled “Drive my car – men without women”, which was published in the December edition of the long established monthly magazine Bungeishunju.
“I love the land of Hokkaido and have visited there a number of times ... I have written the novel this time strictly with a sense of intimacy for it,” Murakami said in a statement released by the magazine.
“I find it quite regrettable and unfortunate that it has caused people living there to feel unpleasant,” he said.
The novella depicts fictionalised conversations between a widowed middle-aged actor and his 24-year-old chauffeuse who hails from Nakatonbetsu, a real-life mountain town whose population has dwindled to 1,900 from a peak of 7,600 in 1950.
When she flips a lit cigarette out of the driver’s window, the actor thinks to himself: “Probably this is something everyone in Nakatonbetsu commonly does.”
Murakami said on Feb 7 he had “long liked how the name of Nakatonbetsu sounds” but intends to replace the name when the story comes out in book form.
“In order to prevent myself from causing any more trouble, I intend to change it to a different name,” he said.
Murakami, 65, whose often surrealist works have been translated into about 40 languages, is widely spoken of as a future Nobel Literature laureate.
But members of the eight-strong town assembly were not amused at their portrayal as a community of litterbugs.
On Feb 5 head of the assembly’s secretariat Shuichi Takai told AFP the body intended to demand an explanation from the publisher.
“In early spring, the town people gather of their own will in a clean-up operation to collect litter on roads,” Takai said.
“We also work hard to prevent wildfires as 90% of our town is covered with mountain forests. It is never a town where people litter with cigarettes every day,” he added. “We want to know why the name of a real town had to be used like that.”
Murakami’s latest book, Shikisai wo Motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to Kare no Junrei no Toshi (Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage)”, became the biggest-selling novel of 2013 after its April release.
An English-language translation is expected some time this year. – AFP Relaxnews
Tags / Keywords:
Lifestyle, Haruki Murakami, Bungeishunju magazine, Drive My Car Men Without Women novella
Murakami to publish first short story collection in nine years
Haruki Murakami novel Japan's 2013 best-seller
Japan: Seniors adopting e-books faster than young adults
Hopelessly devoted to Haruki Murakami
Book to help improve George Town's streetscape
Remembering Tsunami 2004: Still a hard life for many survivors
Frigid turtles get moved to warmer ground
Remembering Tsunami 2004: A village washed away
‘20 vehicles using Uber app do not have permits’
Ladies, time to stand up and fight for your man
Looking out for your ears
Foreign worker crushed to death by concrete slab
El Paso, a cultural mash-up of Texas and Mexico
Ex-national sprinter Thor Gim Soon has passed away
Copyright © 1995-2014 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)