Of all Murakami's titles translated into English, his second novel, Pinball, 1973
, first published in Japanese in 1980, has always been the most difficult to acquire. Never issued in any English-speaking country, Kodansha English Library of Japan published this translation by Alfred Birnbaum in 1985 to help Japanese readers improve their English reading skills. The harder words are defined in Japanese in a glossary included in the back.
The second book in The Trilogy of the Rat, Pinball features J's bar and the characters J and Rat, familiar to Western readers from A Wild Sheep Chase, the third book in the series. Pinball is a collage of everyday episodes in the life of a single 24-year-old Tokyoist, including his disinterest in his translation job, his asexual relationship with the twin sisters 208 and 209, and his half-estrangement from the social world.
A western edition appears unlikely. Murakami has stated that he does not want to see this book or his first, Hear the Wind Sing, which was also translated into English for Japanese speakers, reprinted or translated into English.