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All of God's Children Dance

Posted on Sunday July 17, 2011 at 1:17am in ,

I translated a book! Well, more of a short story. I figured I’d start small and work my way up. The story I translated was “All of God’s Children Dance” by Haruki Murakami, one of my favorite Japanese authors. It is a story about thirty pages long in a collection of short stories all written by Murakami taking place after the Kanto earthquake. The collection has already been translated into English and published in a book called After the Quake. The Japanese version, however, shares the same title as this story.

This definitely isn’t one of my favorite Murakami stories. But I had several reasons for choosing it. Number one was its length. It was just the right size to really test my abilities. Number two, I have already seen the American movie that was based on the book, so I was familiar enough with it without ever actually reading any version of the story:

The movie was pretty good, and the book is pretty much the same as the movie. The dialog is almost word-for-word, with a few things different here and there. Murakami has written much better stories than this, though and I don’t really find this book characteristic of his usual style. That aside, I think this was a good choice for my first book translation. I wanted to broaden up a bit and do things other than visual media. Although to be honest, I wasn’t sure that I was ready to translate a story yet. But once I started I realized I knew a lot more than I thought. I did have to use a kanji dictionary as I worked, but I finished the whole thing in just under thirteen hours.

Without further ado, you can view my translation here. Just click the image of the cover to download the PDF file.

All of God's Children Dance
Click to read.

There is an official translation for this story, which you can read here. I did not reference it while translating because I didn’t want to be influenced, but it was really fun to go through it afterwards and notice the similarities and differences. If I could sum it up shortly, I would say that the official translation does do a better job. It is better written. I am no writer and a novice translator. But there is a lot of things that seem to get left out in the official version. While the official version may “say it better,” or is clearer at getting to the point, I think that my translation is more direct and I feel like I translated just what Murakami was saying as it was said without too much flair.

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