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Haruki Murakami ‘could scribble on toilet paper & get it published’


The biggest book of the year is published on 25 October. 1Q84 is the latest piece of work from Japanese author Haruki Murakami, who – perhaps with Jonathan Franzen – is at the top of today’s literary pile. He sells huge quantities of books and yet they are also acclaimed by the critics.

1Q84 has already been published in Japan in three separate volumes over two years (2009, 2010) but the English version will be a single whopping volume of 944 pages. That’s just behind Infinite Jest and War & Peace in length.

Jay Rubin, who spent a year and a half translating the first two books of 1Q84, has some interesting things to say about Murakami.

When Vintage Books came out with Muakami’s “The Wind-up Bird Chronicle” in 1998, the publisher told Murakami that the novel needed to be reduced by a whopping 25,000 words.

“In those days, the publisher felt he was too unknown for them to be able to publish such a long book,” Rubin recalls. “I don’t know how they make decisions like that, but it was strictly a marketing decision”

But success after success from Murakami has prompted marketing departments to drop their word-count rules.

“There was no directive from the publisher,” Rubin says of his work on “1Q84.” “Murakami can get away with anything now. If he scribbled on his toilet paper, they would publish it.”

Read more about Rubin’s thoughts on Murakami at CNN.

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Richard Davies

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