October 18, 2008
TOKYO (rushPRnews) 10/18/08 — Hai! -- Haruki Murakami's "Norwegian Wood" to be adapted by French-Vietnamese movie director Tran Anh Hung
by Dan Bloom
(RushPRnews)10/18/08 -- Finally, it has happened. "Norwei no mori" is going to be a film. After years and years of negotiations with film producers in Japan and Hollywood that never went anywhere, the Japanese novelist who has been tipped to receive the next Nobel Prize for Literature -- yes, Haruki Murakami -- has agreed in principle to allow a French-Vietnamese movie director bring his much-acclaimed 1960s novel "Norwegian Wood" to the silver screen. Director Tran Anh Hung, born in Vietnam and raised in France, got the nod, and the movie version is due out in theaters worldwide in 2010.
"Norwegian Wood", in case you have not read this amazing book yet (and if you haven't, by all means go out and purchase a copy today!), tells readers outside Japan what the 1960s were like in Tokyo: student angst, street demonstrations, love affairs among students "living in sin" and how Japan was undergoing at that time a transformation of enormous proportions. Murakami was there, of course -- he was born in 1949 and came of age during those wonderful times -- and his novel tells the stories of unparalled prose.
Do you want to know how Japan got to be what it is today? Read "Norwegian Wood." When the movie finally comes out in 2010, it will blow you away. You have never seen a Japan like this, not the way Murakami spins it. Absolutely marvelous -- and thought-provoking -- book, and yes, Murakami is in line to receive the Nobel for literature very very soon. During his lifetime, yes.
According to the Reel Suave movie website, Monsieur Tran was interested in directing the film after reading the French edition of the book. For reasons of his own that he never fully explained, Murakami refused for decades to sell the novel to Hollywood or any studio in Japan, but after meeting with Tran in Tokyo earlier this year, Haruki said "hai".
"Norwegian Wood"has a curious backstory. The Japanese publishers who released the book put it out in two volumes, even though it was one seamless novel, thus forcing Japanese readers to buy the book in two installments and pay double what the book was really worth. Marketing the book this way also caused sales figures to miraculously "double" overnight, so while the book really sold two million copies in Japan, the media told everyone that the book sold 4 million copies.
Do the math: publishing a novel in two volumes is a sure way to double sales figures -- and double profits. That's how some publishers in Tokyo make a buck, er, yen.
Trivia note: "Norwegian Wood" -- a title which Murakami took from the Beatles song of the same name -- has been translated into some 40 languages, from French to Vietnamese, even Hebrew and Arabic. Go figure.
In related news, Murakami was recently awarded the first Berkeley Japan Prize in California, according to Wendy Edelstein of the university's public relations office.
Duncan Williams, chairman of the Center for Japanese Studies and associate professor of Japanese Buddhism at the University of California, Berkeley, said to RushPRnews the prize "was initiated to honor individuals from all disciplines and professions who through their work have shown a commitment to deepening and furthering our understanding of Japan on a global level." He added that Murakami has helped "question old perceptions of Japan as 'the mysterious other.'"
Among those attending the event were Jay Rubin, a professor of Japanese studies at Harvard, who has translated many of Murakami's works.
And what did Murakami say in accepting the prize? "I'm just a guy writing way-out novels."
Watch for the movie version of "Norwegian Wood" in 2010.
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