The masterminds at Lit Hub got Haruki Murakami to recommend his favorite young novelist. Murakami has chosen Japanese writer Mieko Kawakami to shower praise upon.
Image Via Curtis Brown Admin
Kawakami won the prestigious Akutagawa Prize in 2008 for her novel Breasts and Eggs. To be honest, I can’t find out much about it because I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been translated into English. However, Murakami describes the book as follows: “The smooth style with its torrent of Kansai dialect mixed in, the sharp, precisely chosen words, the supple shifts in perspective, the assured, steady hand throughout—it was all so amazing it took my breath away.”
Let it be noted that “took my breath away” is 100% a cliche, and a writer like Murakami is far above such familiar phrases. However, it speaks to Kawakami’s effect on him that he is reduced to cliches. In his typical self-awareness, Murakami amends his affections: “Seriously, it was breathtaking. If that’s too strong an expression then feel free to change it to ‘I was deeply impressed.’”
Though there doesn’t seem to be a complete translation of Breasts and Eggs available in English, translator Louise Heal Kawai has done English speakers (such as myself) the great courtesy of translating an excerpt of the novel, via Words Without Borders, which you can read here!
I’d highly recommend reading Murakami’s poetic praise of Kawakami yourself on Lit Hub, but I’ll leave you with his sweetly simple images, “Like a tree can be counted on to grow tall, reaching for the sky, like a river can be counted on to flow towards the sea, Mieko Kawakami is always ceaselessly growing and evolving.”
Please, translators, bring us Kawakami!
Feature Images Via the Straits Times and Bustle