05 October 2008

Discovering the Literary Genious

I normally blog how I feel what's going on in my country. I blog everything I'm most curious about. Topics I blog are ranging from the corruption of my current prime minister Hun Sen government, the influx of illegal Vietnamese immigrants to the encroachment of the belligerent Thais upon my Cambodia. But, here's a break from my usual topics of all things politics.

I have a friend. Her name is ND who's studying in Japan. She knows I like to read so she sent me two fictional novels written by Haruki Murakami. I don't read Japanese, but Murakami's books are widely translated into 34 languages. The two books I received from ND were English translated version.

I'm still very surprised to received the gift from from Japan so the least I could do was to start reading them right away. Now, I'm hooked on Murakami's writings. I can't wondered enough of all my literate years, I wish I discovered his works sooner. It's not late yet-- thanks, ND, for the two books you gave me. I tremendously enjoy so much of his writing styles. They are full of imageries and wits that make me want to turn page after page and after page.

I just finished reading Murakami's "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" and now I am on page 31 of his next book "Kafka On The Shore".

Let me share one of the passages I enjoyed. It's taken at the end of chapter 9 from "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle". I laughed to myself so hard reading this passage. The protagonist (1st person narrator) is talking with a sixteen years old girl on the outlook of life:
I coloured coded to distinguish the male and female conversations.
"But finally, Mr. Wind-Up Bird, isn't that just what life is ? Aren't we all trapped in the dark somewhere, and they've taken away our food and water, and we're slowly dying, little by little...?"
I laughed. "You're too young to be so...pessimistic," I said, using the English word.
"Pessimistic. It means looking only at the dark side of things."
"Pessimistic...pessimistic..."She repeated the English to herself over and over, and then she looked up at me with a fierce glare. "I'm only sixteen," she said, "and I don't know much about the world, but I do know one thing for sure. If I'm pessimistic, then the adults in this world who are not pessimistic are a bunch of idiots."

Now here's a little bit of Japanese expression from chapter 3 "Kafka On the Shore". A 15 year old boy, Kafka (1st person narrator) while traveling on a bus, where he meets a girl.

"Could you do me a favour?" she says.
"A favor?"
"Can I sit next to you until we get to Takamatsu? I just can't relax when I sit by myself. ... you seem like a nice guy. Do you mind?"
"No problem."
"Thanks," she says. "In traveling, a companion,' as the saying goes."
I nod. nod, nod, nod-- that's all I seem capable of. But what should I say?
How does that end?" she asks.
"How does what end?"
"After a companion, how does it go? I can't remember. I never was very good at Japanese."
" 'In life, compassion,' " I say.
" 'In traveling, a companion, in life compassion,' " she repeats, making sure of it. If she had paper and pencil, it wouldn't surprise me if she wrote it down. "So what does that really mean ? In simple terms."
I think it over. It takes me a while to gather my thoughts, but she waits patiently.
"I think means," I say, "that chance encounters are what keep us going. In simple terms."

By far I think Haruki Murakami is one of the bests in modern literature. I will try to find more of his books here at our Phnom Penh booksellers. Thanks again, ND, for your introducing to me of this literary genius !

Phnom Penh Cambodia


vutha said...

I am one of other Cambodian bloggers who like writing and sharing somethings i got with all of you and readers. In the past, I was hard to speak out what i see and hear happening in the current society. Blog platform is the good tool for sharing something.

Anonymous said...

Vannak, you write good. i like Japanese saying. In traveling, have a companion, in life have compassion. Very good.

Blog By Khmer said...

Thanks Vutha for stopping by and your comments. Your blog is very good also. I'm a regular visitor there.

12:06 -- Yea. Japanese saying is good. This is the first time I ever heard of this expression. It's true: "In traveling, a companion, in life compassion". Murakami is a very good writer.

Anonymous said...

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Remember! (1)Preah Karuna Preah Bat Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk Preahmahaviraksat from Hanoi is a founder of the Sangkhum Reastr Niyum Party.
(2)Samdech Akkak Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen from Hanoi is a Vice-President of the Cambodian People Party .
(3)Samdech Jayavarmen VII Oeurn Sarath from Americ is a founder of the Sangkhum Khmer Party.
If anyone want to see Samdech Jayavarmen VII Oeurn Sarath from Americ flag/The United People flag/The Sangkhum Khmer Niyum Party Flag!

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

I'm happy to see your good work for our country, but after I read your tasteless remarks on His Majesty King Sihanouk, I begun to change my mind about you.
Yes you can read and write fairly, but you allowed your self to be invaded by those ignorant people surrounding you. Now you become just like them, lack of rationality.

True nationalist and true intelligence must seek for the true, not hearsay. Our Khmer people are still misinformed about what happened during Cold war and why it led to Communist took over.

I accidently found an article wrote by the French said "By nature Vietnamese are truly intelligence, calm and desire for higher education, whereas Cambodians are lazy wrestling with each others.." I know you and our people will react and deny it, but that's how the west viewed us.

After many years of our own disputing attacking King Father, our people have continued to suffer, because of our stupidity orchestrated anti our own people.

If you all created the Blog just to attack King Father and make stupid arguments, then don't be upset why the west still view us as barbarians.

Your Compatriot