Reading and writing

AUTHORS ALIVE! : Writers Murata and Asai listen to each other to read their own novels

Editor’s Note: This article concludes a series on “Living Authors! »Book reading and other events to mark the opening of the Waseda International House of Literature known as the Haruki Murakami Library.

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Although they had mutual interactions, Sayaka Murata and Ryo Asai never heard each other read their respective novels aloud.

Thus, the authors seemed to take pleasure in analyzing mutual fluency in speech in front of an audience on December 18 at the Waseda International House of Literature in Tokyo.

“You spoke in a softer voice than usual,” Murata said after Asai recited the first part of her “Seiyoku” (righteous / sexual desire). “Your voice was beautiful, like a gentle drizzle. “

Murata read passages she chose from “Convenience Store Woman” and “Earthlings”.

“You spoke louder than usual,” Asai said. “Maybe our voices come together with the works we read aloud. “

The logo of “Living Authors!” events (Provided by Waseda University)

The event was the sixth in a series of public sessions titled “Living Authors!” to mark the October 1 opening of the institution, better known as the Haruki Murakami Library, which is located on the main campus of Waseda University in the capital’s Shinjuku district.

Robert Campbell, a specially appointed professor of Japanese literature at Waseda University, read aloud passages from the English editions of Murata’s novels translated by Ginny Takemori. Campbell served as the interviewer during the session.

“I think a distinguishing feature of your novels is that the emotions of the main characters are not explained,” Asai said of Murata.s works. “I had the impression that the English editions convey more emotions.

Muratas “Convenience Store Woman” and “Earthlings” have been translated and published abroad.

Asai said he tends to go overboard in expressing emotions in his novels.

“I don’t believe in my own point of view, so I’m captive of the worldview of my main characters,” Murata said.

“People have different worldviews depending on the information they have. I’m interested in how “lenses” like this work. “

Asai read a scene from “Seiyoku” where a man and woman who are not involved in a romantic relationship mimic a sexual act with their clothes on.

“The two were blaming each other for not doing what everyone can,” Asai said. “The scene represents a time when they have the idea that they can keep thinking about the matter exactly because they can’t.

“I have reached this turning point after writing about 300 pages in the book, but your work begins precisely from there. “

“This scene was awesome,” Murata replied. “The characters claim to be performing a sexual act, but that hasn’t offered readers a single drop of sexuality. To get to that point, I think you needed language like that that falls and builds up on readers. “

“Convenience Store Woman” and “Earthlings” by Sayaka Murata are published in different languages, including English, Hebrew and Lithuanian, and with different covers. (Mariko Nakamura)

Murata and Asai both write about how individuals feel at odds with society, but their mutual dialogue has shown their different approaches to this end.

It was a luxurious session attended by less than 20 people, including students from Waseda University and others who had applied for the event.

“The pleasure of listening to a public reading helped spur conversations and much more,” said Campbell.

Although the event is the last of the scheduled sessions, Campbell said in a closing remark that the series of events will continue until 2022.

Margarita W. Wilson

The author Margarita W. Wilson