Thursday, July 16, 2009

1Q84, chapter 1

If you don't want to know what the book is about, read no further.

So the linguistic nerd in me is looking for an outlet to make studying fun again. Apparently translating stuff all day for a living isn't good enough, so I've decided to do one paragraph from each chapter of 1Q84 as I read along just to give people a taste of what they otherwise couldn't read without picking up the Japanese original. I'll give the original, then the translation, then some thoughts on the chapter itself.


Don't be fooled by outward appearances. There's always only one reality.

Aomame inhaled deeply and then exhaled. She then climbed over the railing while continuing to chase the melody of Billy Jean with her ears. Her mini skirt rolled up around her hips. "Who cares!" she thought. If they want to look, let them look. It's not like they're going to see what kind of person I am just from seeing under my skirt. Besides, her firm, alluring legs were the part of Aomame's body that she was most proud of.

Well it's a little harder to capture the art of an author's work than I was thinking, but that's basically the gist of things.

The book opens to the first of 2 main characters, Aomame. She's supposed to be a stunning beauty that doesn't try to stand out, but with an odd name like that she always gets teased (I've never heard that name, and it sounds like edamame, the green beans everyone traditionally snacks on with beer).

As with many novels, we find our subject in a very normal situation, with a twist. This time around, our girl Aomame is trapped in an endless traffic jam on the Shutoko, the Tokyo expressway, in a taxi with an abnormally good sound system. The music evokes memories she has no earthly reason to remember, then upon the suggestion of her knowledgeable driver decides to hop out and take an emergency ladder down to ground level and hop a train so she can make her meeting on time (the Shutoko is elevated).

I think that first sentence above is going to have something to do with the theme of the book - there's always only one reality. I liked how Murakami sneaks an MJ reference in there too... almost too precognizant with his timing on that one. Then again it is supposed to be 1984, so I'm sure Billy Jean was playing all over the place.

And there you have it - the highly abridged summary of chapter 1 of Haruki Murakami's 1Q84.

For an introduction to the book, go here. Stay tuned for more.


VanTienSinh said...

Thank. I hope u have many time to translate next. Thank u very much.

darg said...

VanTienSinh: thanks for the comment! I will be working on putting more up later, but I myself am moving through the book rather slowly. Stay tuned for more!

Mike Philbin said...

thanks for your spontaneous translation of that section of chapter one - can't wait for the full book.


Hacker Fox said...


I came here from the Chimeraworld web searhing for a translated version of the 1Q84 books. I sincerely hope that you can continue with this (or at least, join to a translation community project). Thanks for your effort!