Monday, March 26, 2012

One Year Older...

Dear Mr. Haruki Murakami,

My name is Patrick Tsai. I am an American photographer living in Tokyo. Recently a publisher in Japan has approached me and would like to make my latest project entitled Talking Barnacles into a book. Right now, we are looking for a translator, which is the reason why I am writing you.

Talking Barnacles is my online diary over the past year about my relationships with my roommates, my parents, my cat, my neighbors in Hatagaya, a mysterious girl, who I met and fell in love with, and a foreign country which I now consider my home. Even though the story begins on March 11, 2011, it is more about the struggles of daily life in general rather than the quake itself. It’s also about how I needed to be faced with the possibility of dying to finally wake up and have the courage to listen to what my heart had always been telling me to do, and especially about how my perception of the world began to change because of that.

I learned during this past year, if you are doing what you want to be doing, it inevitably gives you the strength to go on even during dark times and in a way, rubs off on the people around you. I also figured out that if you honestly write down what you think- the way you actually think it- then the immediacy and emotions that you feel at that time really do come across in your words. Because I do this, many readers have felt a strong connection to Talking Barnacles since they too have thought and reacted the same way to their own similar experiences, which inevitably makes them reflect on their own lives and choices.

Since its inception, Talking Barnacles has become something like a black hole because it keeps growing and evolving by absorbing everything around it whether it intended to or not…When my cat went missing for several weeks, I wrote about how that happened in your book The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle as well, which made me recall a funny anecdote about meeting you once at a book signing in New York when I was in college. Since that entry, you have been repeatedly mentioned in my diary because of your great influence on me when I was younger and how it still lingers with me today because that’s what we- as people- do: we influence each other whether we are the most famous living writer in the world or just a little nine-year old boy living next door. I have learned through the numerous emails that I have received how powerful and positive this project can be, but I also found out how much pain it can cause to those closest to me if I am not careful because it is now no longer just a diary but a responsibility... and if I had to share this responsibility with someone else, I would like it to be you because in a way, you have become apart of this strange Talking Barnacles family that has formed over this past year.

Even though Talking Barnacles is about the common human experience and seeing the beauty in the everyday, I also believe that it is becoming an important document about life in Tokyo especially after the earthquake. It is unfortunate that right now the Japanese audience can only appreciate the photographic half of it, which will hopefully be remedied soon with your help. I am very appreciative that you have taken the time to read this letter and would be honored if you could go over my samples that my editor has provided, or even better, check out the actual website directly, when you have the chance. Thank you for all that you have created as well as shared. I probably would not be in Japan if it were not for you.

Yours truly,
Patrick Tsai


  1. Hi Pat,

    I've really enjoyed looking at the photographs on your blog and reading about your experiences for the past few months. This letter struck me enough to comment here, for its honesty and boldness.

    It's very bold of you to have sent this letter off to Murakami -- I wonder what motivated you to directly address the author, when it seems more likely that his agent, or his agent's assistant, would be the one reading your letter. It's clear from your post how much you respect Murakami, but is it presumptive -- or even hubristic -- to think that one of the world's best living novelists would consider translating the work of someone who is not an established author?

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