As a skilled literary craftsman who often wears two hats, Haruki Murakami provided a rare insight into how his translation work and writing helps keep his mind fresh in a speech at a Tokyo bookstore on April 27.

“The process of switching between the two opposite types of works seems to help improve what could be considered the flow of psychic energy,” said Murakami, 68.

The event was held to commemorate the release of his new book “Murakami Haruki Honyaku Hotondo Zenshigoto” (Translation Works of Haruki Murakami).

Only a lucky 400 people were chosen by lottery to attend out of more than 10 times the number of applicants. The reclusive Murakami, a perennial favorite for the Nobel Prize in Literature, seldom makes public appearances.

The new book follows Murakami’s career path as a translator, working on many stories of American writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) and Raymond Carver (1938-1988).

“Since I am a novelist, I do whatever I want freely when writing my own stories. Yet, when translating, I always feel like I want to kill my own ego, respect the various constraints and be humble,” Murakami said.

He recited in Japanese from his own translation of Carver’s short story “Where I’m Calling From.” He also joined a discussion session with translator Motoyuki Shibata and writer Mieko Kawakami about translation works and words they use when they spin their stories.

The event was jointly organized by Chuokoron-Shinsha Inc. and Kinokuniya Co.