I disagree. Translating a novel takes a long while. There's no incentive for pirates to want to do this.
(although i would love it if it happened. I like murakami.)
Pretty sure some of his earlier works that were not translated into English have fan translations online, but with an official translation on the way, unofficial efforts are unlikely unless there is really widespread dissatisfaction with the result. There is a lot less time involved in translating anime and manga (and convenient stopping points), which are widely "fan-subbed" and "scanlated". Although, what do I know? Since the original was released serially, maybe there is already an English translation out there for some of it...
I believe this already happened with the last Harry Potter book - English to Chinese.…

(That's just the first article I found - I'm sure there are more)
Translation piracy first started happening when US and Canadian fans of Japanese vids and manga started getting antsy about waiting 2-3 years to finally see the "official" (and badly translated/dubbed/hacked-into-pieces) version here.

They started getting friends together who were bilingual to do the translations, and then imposed those over the original voices for the vids, or over the scanned manga.

The surprising thing is that these "illegal" fan works are usually much more true to the original than the palp we're fed in the official US English versions.

Just go see an original Japanese movie and you'll realize how much is missing in the later (shorter) release we get in America.

In short, there is every incentive for pirates to do this, because the official versions suck SO much.

(we now return you to Fnarf, who will pretend that a. it isn't happening, b. there is no incentive, and c. the official version is better)
(yes, I left out the Brit-US translations and the French-US ones that occured with Metal Hurlant/Heavy Metal, but those have the same origins)
Translators can translate fiction well at a rate of only about 1500 to 2000 words a day at most; that means a first draft of a typical novel takes at least three months. When publication of "official" translations of works are delayed so much, it's usually because the American publisher doesn't realize that the translator can't just plug it all into Google Translate, and so they forgot to allow time for the translation. (And somehow they still think a novel that took a year or two to write can be translated well in only a couple of months . . .)
Totally agree with Will in Seattle. When I was an anime fan (kind of got over it), many of the fansubs were of extremely high-quality, often succeeding in doing as close to literal translations of not only the dialogue, but subtle cultural references, background text, et al., that the official translations would either bowdlerize, ignore, or otherwise fuck up into a more "market-friendly" rendition. This isn't to say I disapprove of, for example, Gillian Anderson doing the voice of the wolf in the US version of Princess Mononoke, but very often the fansubs, being a labour of love, really go that extra mile to make the text as true to the original as possible.

I definitely see this as being a concern for the rights holders, although, as in the case of anime, often the subbers will stop providing the fruits of their efforts for download once the material becomes licensed in the target country.

Of course, re-corking the lamp is difficult. If only we had the benefit of a decade of industry experience of releasing old-world media in digital formats to look back to...
I can't wait for this to come out, and while I'm suspicious of the split translation, I'll definitely wait for the Rubin/Gabriel to come out.

I don't know any Japanese, but I saw the Japanese volumes at Kinokuniya the other day, and they were so beautiful that I still wanted to buy them.
It would be nice if we could trust such things as the new IP laws in China, but I doubt they'll be much use, since it's the Red Army that runs most of the piracy operations.

But perhaps there might be a way for rights holders to authorize an "alternative" version in return for the rights to subsequent resale during the lifetime of an author (not a corporation, those are not and never will be people, no matter what Coke Hair Thomas says on the Supreme Court).
I read the first volume in Japanese. It's good. Reading in Japanese is a real chore for me, but I'm ready to dig into the next volume.
I had the same experience as Sikandro. I was at the Kinokuniya the other day staring at the books, wanting the words to start making sense. They never did. It seemed a perfectly Murakami experience to be frank. I'm anxious to read the books, but I'll wait for the official translation.

Yes, I'll most definitely wait for the Rubin/Gabriel version too. They're phenomenal translators & Murakami puts total trust in them and so will I.

@12 I, too, frequent that display in Kinokuniya just to hold those books & am totally frustrated/bewildered each time that I can't understand a word even though it's sitting right there in my hands. But those book translations give me something to look forward to in 2011.

Murakami was robbed by not getting the Nobel, btw. The experience of reading a Murakami book is not like reading your average good book. It's a psychologically transporting and totally immersive experience. You're never quite the same afterwards.
There already are pirate translations out there. I've seen Chinese wuxia novels fan-translated into English online, and various English-language novels into Chinese. You can buy the Chinese translations on the street in Shanghai from guys selling them out of wheelbarrows. If you're lucky, the wheelbarrow guy will also have a few copies of books in English, usually popular classics (Jane Austen, Dumas) and Dan Brown. And one time I saw a Dragonlance trilogy there, apparently the same as the real version (I gave it to a friend who compared them), but with the author's name misspelled on the cover.

I also have a few friends who translate short stories and Japanese "light novels" and post them on their blogs. Since a fair amount of Murakami fans started out as anime fans, who come from a subculture that encourages fan translation, I would be surprised if someone wasn't already translating and posting the odd chapter. Nowadays, pirate/fan translations of text (instead of comics or video) tend to be fairly private, restricted to small-scale blogs and livejournals, not distributed to a wider audience. But it's entirely possible that the sort of team-effort translations that you see among fans of other Asian pop culture (comics, animation, television dramas) will spread to novels, with people in a group signing up to translate different chapters, and others editing. It will be interesting to see.
@12 Oh gosh! I do that too! Each time vowing that I will learn to read Japanese.
I don't speak anything nearly as interesting as Japanese, but I myself have been tempted to do lay translations of books I enjoy just because I don't see any plans to translate them officially in the future, and I think they're great books and want to share them with friends.

Another reason to cheer the demise of publishers. In a more self-published future, maybe these fans doing great translations can contact authors directly and work out a deal, then get the whole thing up and downloadable in a few months.
Even though this post is destined to rot in internet abyss, I feel obligated to point out that fans translated and recoded the entirety of Mother 1 and 3 (Think earthbound 0 and 3 YOU PLEBE!). They, as of course you are duly aware, are Shigisato Itoi's RPG masterworks, are very text driven, and the uninitiated would assume Murakami wrote them.

In fact, Itoi and Murakami have a short short anthology called "Let's meet in a dream" from the mid 80's. The three segments I've found translated here: are amazing.

It took 3 years to translate Mother 3 however, and they were never certain it would cross the ocean in the first place (which it didn't).

Please wait...

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