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Lonely Metal Souls

Theo Tait: Haruki Murakami

18 October 2001
Sputnik Sweetheart 
by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel.
Harvill, 229 pp., £12, May 2001, 9781860468254
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... Haruki Murakami’s translator, PhilipGabriel, describes him as a ‘one-man revolution in Japanese fictional style’. His early novels and short stories of the 1980s – playful, wry, experimental, saturated in references to Western culture ...

Reality B

Christopher Tayler: Haruki Murakami’s ‘1Q84’

15 December 2011
1Q84: Book 1 and Book 2 
by Haruki Murakami, translated by Jay Rubin.
Harvill Secker, 623 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 1 84655 407 0
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1Q84: Book 3 
by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel.
Harvill Secker, 364 pp., £14.99, October 2011, 978 1 84655 405 6
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... well in English, it sometimes comes out a bit inertly, with assorted tics depending on which of his translators is at work. Alfred Birnbaum uses lots of slang and a more hardboiled tone; Birnbaum and PhilipGabriel use strongly American English; Gabriel and Rubin favour flatness and don’t worry much about freshness of diction. All the same, Murakami does a serviceable impression of Raymond Carver, one ...
30 September 1999
South of the Border, West of the Sun 
by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel.
Harvill, 187 pp., £9.99, July 1999, 1 86046 594 3
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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle 
by Haruki Murakami, translated by Jay Rubin.
Harvill, 609 pp., £12, May 1998, 9781860464706
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... Talking to Jay McInerney in 1992, the year South of the Border, West of the Sun was published in Japanese, Haruki Murakami said that he wasn’t so much an international writer, as a non-national writer: ‘You might call it the Japanese nature that remains only after you have thrown out, one after another, all those parts that are altogether too “Japanese”. That is what I really want to express ...

Pseudo-Couples

Fredric Jameson: Kenzaburo Oe

20 November 2003
Somersault 
by Kenzaburo Oe, translated by Philip Gabriel.
Atlantic, 570 pp., £16.99, July 2003, 1 84354 080 0
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... by the central struggle between the two enemy brothers, while in The Pinch Runner Memorandum, a galloping and comic nightmare more reminiscent of Lem’s Futurological Congress than of anything in Philip K. Dick, the father and son actually change places (it might have been called ‘The Switchover’), the former becoming a teenager while the latter assumes the advanced age of the father (38), the ...

Last in the Funhouse

Patrick Parrinder

17 April 1986
Gerald’s Party 
by Robert Coover.
Heinemann, 316 pp., £10.95, April 1986, 0 434 14290 5
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Caracole 
by Edmund White.
Picador, 342 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 330 29291 9
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Lake Wobegon Days 
by Garrison Keillor.
Faber, 337 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 571 13846 2
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In Country 
by Bobbie Ann Mason.
Chatto, 245 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 7011 3034 2
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... that parties are compelling as well as nightmarish and that, though all life is there, since it’s all happening at once, nobody has time to take much notice – this was all said in the 36 lines of Philip Larkin’s ‘Vers de Société’. While nobody would deny that Coover and his contemporaries opened our horizons twenty years ago, I would see Gerald’s Party as the work of a writer imprisoned in ...

A Human Kafka

Gabriel​ Josipovici

5 March 1981
The World of Franz Kafka 
edited by J.P. Stern.
Weidenfeld, 263 pp., £9.95, January 1981, 0 297 77845 5
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... a strictly biographical nature, studies of Kafka’s Prague and of his relations with women. It also contains poems by D.J. Enright and Jerzy Peterkiewicz (not the best work of either) and stories by Philip Roth and the editor on what might have been: a Kafka alive in America after the war, a bachelor schoolmaster; alive in the war and fighting with the partisans. These are not merely jeux d’esprit ...

Unusual Endowments

Patrick Collinson

30 March 2000
Philip​ Sidney: A Double Life 
by Alan Stewart.
Chatto, 400 pp., £20, February 2000, 0 7011 6859 5
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... off for Poland, which was without a king at the time. Later, a story was invented that he had been offered the Polish crown: absurd, but can there be smoke without any fire whatsoever? In May 1575, Philip Sidney returned to Little England. If England was small beer, so was he, no baron but plain Mr Sidney. He was 20 years of age. Sidney’s career makes a bizarre episode in that endless saga which is ...

Hug me, kiss me

Penelope Fitzgerald

6 October 1994
Such Devoted Sisters: An Anthology of Stories 
edited by Shena Mackay.
Virago, 330 pp., £6.99, August 1994, 1 85381 755 4
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When the World Was Steady 
by Claire Messud.
Granta, 270 pp., £14.99, July 1994, 0 14 014099 9
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... comes last of all. Placed there, it seems like a magical explanation of all that goes before. Christina Rossetti herself said that her poem was not to be taken as an allegory. Her brother, Dante Gabriel, whose illustration shows the two sisters sleeping in each other’s arms, was fascinated by the intensity of feeling between them. Children are disturbed by the sexual jostling of the goblins and by ...

Tunnel Visions

Philip​ Horne

4 August 1988
The Tunnel 
by Ernesto Sabato, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden.
Cape, 138 pp., £10.95, June 1988, 0 224 02578 3
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Pilgrims Way 
by Abdulrazak Gurnah.
Cape, 232 pp., £11.95, June 1988, 0 224 02562 7
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States of Emergency 
by André Brink.
Faber, 248 pp., £9.95, May 1988, 0 571 15118 3
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Moonrise, Moonset 
by Tadeusz Konwicki, translated by Richard Lourie.
Faber, 344 pp., £11.95, May 1988, 0 571 13609 5
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... treatment of Catherine, who seems to be apportioned an undue charge of sentiment and glamour. The love-object in The Tunnel does not become a rounded character in Castel’s account: which has led Gabriel Josipivoci to claim that ‘we get no sense of Maria as a living person, or of her husband or her lover.’ But if one grants the formal premise of a first-person narration by a crazed solipsist ...

Serious Dr Sonne

Philip​ Purser

6 December 1990
The Play of the Eyes 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Ralph Manheim.
Deutsch, 329 pp., £14.95, August 1990, 0 233 98570 0
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Yellow Street 
by Veza Canetti, translated by Ian Mitchell.
Halban, 139 pp., £11.95, November 1990, 1 870015 36 3
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... gait, his mute despair at the bombing of Guernica, and finally, Hashed up this once and immediately withdrawn again, as if revealing it were the ultimate presumption, the doctor’s first name: Gabriel. The notion of true wisdom confined in a truly private, inviolate life is always attractive, and doubly so when all around you – as on the radio and television in our day or in the coffeehouses of ...

What the hell happened?

Alexander Star: Philip​ Roth

4 February 1999
I Married a Communist 
by Philip​ Roth.
Cape, 323 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 224 05258 6
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... Some time ago, Philip Roth remarked that his novels investigate ‘people in trouble’. Though much about his work has changed over the years, his fictional landscapes are still littered with human wreckage. Rage and ...

Trouble down there

Ferdinand Mount: Tea with Sassoon

7 August 2003
Siegfried Sassoon: The Making of a War Poet 1886-1918 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Duckworth, 600 pp., £9.99, September 2002, 0 7156 2894 1
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Siegfried Sassoon: The Journey from the Trenches 1918-67 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Duckworth, 526 pp., £30, April 2003, 0 7156 2971 9
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Sassoon: The Worlds of Philip​ and Sybil 
by Peter Stansky.
Yale, 295 pp., £25, April 2003, 0 300 09547 3
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... warren several miles behind the Allied lines, or his watching his company trudging back from the Somme an hour before daybreak – are unsurpassable. In his Oxford Book of 20th-Century English Verse, Philip Larkin included seven of Sassoon’s poems; only Yeats and Hardy had significantly more. True, Larkin’s anthology was denounced by Donald Davie and others as a counterblast against Modernism. But ...

In Venice

Hal Foster: At the Biennale

4 August 2005
... women, both Spanish. María de Corral arranged the exhibition in the Italian pavilion, which is anchored by established figures: among the 42 artists in 34 rooms are such champions as Francis Bacon, Philip Guston and Antonio Tapiès, and such contenders as Rachel Whiteread, Thomas Ruff and William Kentridge. Rosa Martínez selected the survey in the vast Arsenale, the old shipyard, where 49 artists and ...

Everlasting Fudge

Theo Tait: The Difficult Fiction of Cynthia Ozick

19 May 2005
The Bear Boy 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Weidenfeld, 310 pp., £12.99, March 2005, 0 297 84808 9
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... Athena of its literary pantheon. She has won prestigious awards by the armful: she was recently nominated for the first International Man Booker Prize for career achievement, alongside Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Gabriel García Márquez, Margaret Atwood et al. Consequently, it is sometimes seen as surprising that she is so little read in Britain. Her formidable essays have been published and admired ...

The Buffalo in the Hall

Susannah Clapp: Beryl Bainbridge

5 January 2017
Beryl Bainbridge: Love by All Sorts of Means, a Biography 
by Brendan King.
Bloomsbury, 564 pp., £25, September 2016, 978 1 4729 0853 7
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... Hodgman and Anna Haycraft, who wrote as Alice Thomas Ellis. Their work had little to do with the great social explorations of Doris Lessing or with the ludic excavations of Angela Carter. Or with Philip Roth, Gabriel García Márquez or Kingsley Amis. What now seems striking is how utterly beyond this Bainbridge was. If she is to be seen as part of any tradition it is one that is long-standing, wide ...

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