The inhabitants of Nakatonbetsu, a small All Japan newsese town located on the country’s northern island of Hokkaido, are very upset at best-selling novelist Haruki Murakami, who released recently a new story that apparently suggests the town’s residents use to throw lit cigarettes from car windows.
Nakatonbetsu’s locals say they will ask the publisher an explanation about how the fragment was allowed to pass over an editor’s desk.
The offending passage appeared in the new 24-page novella, entitled “Drive my car — men without women”, which was published in the December edition of the long established monthly magazine “Bungeishunju”, the international press reports.
It includes fictional dialogues between a widowed middle-aged actor and his 24-year-old chauffeuse who hails from Nakatonbetsu, a real-life town who had around 7,600 inhabitants in 1950.
When she flips a lit cigarette out of the driver’s window, the actor thinks to himself: “Probably this is something everyone in Nakatonbetsu commonly does.”
Although Murakami, 65, is seen as a future Nobel Literature laureate and his works have been translated in about 40 languages, Nakatonbetsu’s locals are not that easy to impress. They plan to demand an explanation of publisher Bungeishunju, Shuichi Takai, head of the assembly’s secretariat
“In early spring, the town people gather of their own will in a clean-up operation to collect litter on roads,” Takai said.
“We also work hard to prevent wildfires as 90 percent of our town is covered with mountain forests. It is never a town where people litter with cigarettes everyday,” he added. “We want to know why the name of a real town had to be used like that.”
Because the town did not make any inquiry yet, the publisher said it had no comment.