Of book trailers and literary geographies

I never knew book publicity also extended to the realm of making trailers for it, or plugs as they are called sometimes, just like how we do it for film or TV programs.

Here is Japanese author Haruki Murakami’s “book trailer” for his new book:

Interesting, ‘no? I guess everything could have a trailer these days when publicized. What are these video-focused social networks for, but to circulate stuff like this, di ba?

I chanced upon this trailer within this New York Times write-up about Murakami, as shared by my New York-based Dumaguete writing co-fellow. It was a good early morning Sunday read for me, and it also jumpstarted quite a few thoughts in me about creative writing and geographies.

The article author focused on Murakami and how the famed Japanese author wrote his own version of Tokyo, sparking a debate whether his is a better, imaginative vision or if he’s meditatively reflecting the realities of his home town. Well, whichever, and whatever his intentions are, the bottomline is, his books about Tokyo sell.

Now this is where I stopped and thought. How come no one could do that about Manila? We have so many English writers here that we don’t even need translations for these novels. What are English writers — or even Filipino/regional writers, for that matter — writing about? Sure, there have been many efforts already, like our National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin who even had a nom de plume of “Quijano de Manila” back when he was doing the reinvention of the essay kind of writing (being a journalist + being a literary writer). But my main inquiry here is, how come our Filipino authors are not being translated like Murakami, if some of them have been doing the same thing here? Hmmm I wonder. Of course I have to qualify that as “not being translated as much” since there have been a few efforts already, the latest being Miguel Syjuco’s award-winning novel Illustrado. But still, these efforts are few and far between.

This question has really hounded the literary scene for years. I think some writers are conscious of this already, and that is very evident in the way they programmed last year’s Lit Out Loud or that international literary conference where they had Indian authors speak about getting published outside of their country or even Asia. You know, “crossover” things like that.

Anyway, these are just a few thoughts. Perhaps since our country is an archipelago with 7,107 islands (high tide or low tide?), it is quite hard to map out such geographies anywhere in art. But I’m glad there are efforts. I just hope there are more.


~ by leaflens on October 23, 2011.

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