By Haruki Murakami, Translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin, Philip Gabriel
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It’s an ideal combination. I know you’ve got it in you. Why do you think I’ve been backing you all this time? Just leave the rest to me. With the two of you together, the new writers’ prize will be easy, and then we can shoot for the Akutagawa. I haven’t been wasting my time in this business all these years. ” Tengo let his lips part as he stared at Komatsu. Komatsu put his spoon back in his saucer. It made an abnormally loud sound. ” Tengo asked, recovering from the shock. “If it takes the Akutagawa, it’ll cause a sensation.
Above all, it was quiet. The car probably had extra sound insulation to keep noise out, like a soundproofed music studio. The driver probably owned his own cab. Many such owner-drivers would spare no expense on the upkeep of their automobiles. Moving only her eyes, Aomame searched for the driver’s registration card, without success. This did not seem to be an illegal unlicensed cab, though. It had a standard taxi meter, which was ticking off the proper fare: 2,150 yen so far. Still, the registration card showing the driver’s name was nowhere to be found.
It was odd for him to be screening other writers’ works when he himself was competing for the prize, but he read everything impartially, not terribly concerned about the delicacy of his situation. If nothing else, the experience of reading mounds of badly written fiction gave him an indelible lesson in exactly what constituted badly written fiction. He read around one hundred works each time, choosing ten that might have some point to them to bring to Komatsu with written comments. Five works would make it to the short list, and from those the four-person committee would select the winner.