Murakami Haruki


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Murakami Haruki
Murakami Haruki

Murakami Haruki is the man who writes books like a jazz composer. Delicatedly he places the words and sentences, like a composer writing a score. Although he writes about deep human emotions, he keeps the music in perfect rhythm and control, just like an orchestra conductor. His stories have longing and nostalgy. His stories will surprise you.

Murakami was born 1949 in Kyoto. His father, the son of Buddhist priest, and his mother teached Japanese literature. It is said that his home had strong traditions. Afterall, he grew up the time of post-war period. From his novels, I get the sense that maybe Murakami was frustrated of the atmosphere in Japan at that time, in Norwegian Wood, he wrote about the strong political atmosphere in the dormitory, which the main character couldn't care less. Maybe, this is why he read so many foreign books, especially European writers, Checkhov, Dickens, Flaubert. In Wild Sheep Chase there is also sense of American detective stories.

"A slip! She could have at least left a slip! .. I doused the ashtray, thought more about her slip, then gave up and hit the sack." - A Wild Sheep Chase

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In his novel South of the Border, West from the Sun, his character falls in love when listening Nat King Cole's old scratched LP. Norwegian Wood instead got it's name from the same named Beatles' song. His insights to music has always been influencing his works. It would seem that he also has a talent for lyric writing.

Haruki Murakami got married with his wife Yoko Takahashi in 1971. Soon after that, they started to save money to open a Jazz club, which they did. It was called Peter Cat, after their pet. He got his degree in 1975 while his wife got her's in 1972. It could be that these days influenced his beautifully paced story in South of the Border, West from the Sun, which he wrote almost twenty years after.

Eventually, the Murakamis' decided to sell the Jazz club as his short stories got successful. He started to work as a translator of foreign literature to Japanese, and his hard work has bear a fruit in books of writers such as Fitzgerald, or Carver. A professor said not too long time ago that it's much due to his skill that authors like Fitzgerald are so famous in Japan. After Raymond Carver's death in 1987, Haruki Murakami wrote "Raymond Carver was without question the most valuable teacher I have ever had, and also the greatest literary comrade".

After few years, Murakami's works became more independent, and there was more room for his elaborate improvisation. If literature would be jazz, he started to move more freely to the improvised zone. There is a natural rhythm, that he says comes naturally. He doesn't plan the next page, he just lets it come.

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Perhaps the most ultimate achievement of this trend would be the Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, a surreal, contemporary, and very pop novel. Many people say they cannot understand it, but perhaps it wasn't made to be understood. Murakami uses his peculiar sense of humour for pacing his stories, often repeating a lines of his characters. Just like the dark humour there is in Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.

It was the time around 1988 when he published Dance Dance Dance, when it struck him. Sales of Norwegian Wood had risen to millions. Murakami said he found the new situation of being famous uncomfortable. During the times when Norwegian Wood got so enormously famous, he lived a simple life in Italy with his wife. When coming back, he found this storm in his country, they had made him a pop star. Eventually they escaped to Europe, and eventually went to USA in early 90's, Princeton. It was this time he wrote South of the Border, West from the Sun, and Wind Up Bird Chronicle. It could be that he was missing his life in Japan, the old days. Now it was time of bubble economy, scent of money was in the air. He must have missed the old nostalgic time of gentle afternoons, jazz pieces and his simple life back then. The Wind Up Bird Chronicle instead is totally different story, it's a book of Japan's recent history and it's complications.

Haruki Murakami is perhaps the most known contemprary writer of Japan. His works reached a huge fame abroad, especially in Russia, the country of Tolstoy, where "Sputnik Sweetheart" was very well received. Regardless of his accomplishments, he seems rather reluctant celebrity. In March 2006, it was announced that Haruki Murakami would be the Kafka prize winner of the year 2006. The novelists who got this prize in 2004 and 2005 also got the Nobel prize of each year. There were some optimistic articles in Japanese magazines or newspapers until the Nobel prize winner was announced this year. The Kafka prize ceremony took place in October 2006. At the ceremony speech, he said Kafka was one of the most influenced novelist when he was young, and that is one of the main reason for him to come to the Plague to attend the prize ceremony.

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Personally, I feel Murakami values his own life, his routine to wake up six a clock to write a novel and enjoy his favorite music. He runs marathon every now and then and feels some sadness to realize that he can't beat his usual 3,5 hours. It could be that exercise helps him to concentrate on his work.

There are magazines in Japan which publish correspondence of Murakami and his fans. They are very interesting to read. I recommend to find them in the bookshop if you are visiting Japan, some of them have a section of his fans from abroad.

Here is a list of his novels (the years are the time of Japanese edition's publication)


Actually I have russian backgrounds, and the first book of japanese writer that I found in Moscow was Haruki Murakami, Norwegian wood, after reading it, I fell in love with it, its really great work, and deep understanding of people's emotions and feelings, i guess Japanese should be proud of having such a great people)
#1 - Yana - 05/07/2008 - 01:42
Ode to Haruki Murakami
I've been fond of Japanese Literature for over ten years though I'm still at the age of eighteen. The first Japanese novel I've read was Mr.Murakami's Norwegian Wood and I still consider that this novel is the most outstanding one. In spite of reading for over thirty times, I can't catch the whole hidden meaning in this story and I've discussed the meanings with the Chinese translator Mr.Lin for several times. I can't understand it till now. Nowadays, I'm trying my best to get the enrollment of Waseda University because of this novel's background. I'd like to experience the atmosphere Mr. Murakami used to stay in. Who can give me some suggestions about my guru--Haruki Murakami
#2 - Vincent - 08/29/2008 - 08:31
His first novel I've read was 'South of the Border, West of the Sun', then 'Sputnik Sweetheart'.. I was touched deeply and simply enchanted by both of them. I find myself between this lines. I'm getting addicted to every word and atached to it's meaning..
Thank god, earth breeds such an extraordinary writers.
#3 - Maja - 09/21/2008 - 07:31
For me Murakami was not the first japanese writer. It was Inogue. But Murakami fascinated me with the mixture of western and japanese lifestyle. That all his books play thousands of miles far away from germany but you read it an get inwolved directly into the scenes. His characters could be russion, amerikan or german, nobody would mind it. To read him gives you hope in a dark world.
#4 - Soeren Onez - 10/02/2008 - 10:57
speech in jerusalem
Hi, I read all the books of Murakami.I'd like to know what he said in jerusalem when he received his price. is it possible to send it to me? (in english, no problem) THANK YOU
#5 - nahum - 02/21/2009 - 10:37
speech in jerusalem
I would also like to have a copy of the speech he made in Jerusalem. Thank you so much!!!
#6 - Lisa T. - 03/26/2009 - 21:28
Pls send me a copy of speech he made in Jerusalem.
Thank you !
#7 - jason chao - 04/02/2009 - 03:26
Speech Murakami San made in Jerusalem
I would also like to have a English copy of the speech Murakami San made in Jerusalem. Thank you so much!!!
#8 - Larry Lin - 05/14/2009 - 03:57
Murakami San
I like Norwegian Wood very much, but there is 1 problem with it. There is this boy named Vincent who just can't understand it, so he wants to discuss it all the time.

Can't stand him, that boy Vincent.
#9 - Mr. Lin - 07/07/2009 - 21:30
Norwegian Wood Critique
Right now I am reading Norwegian Wood and it is very captivating. I do have one problem, I don't want to generalize but Japanese are not known to be such open people, especially about their sexuality with others. It is very unlikely that an older woman will discuss in every detail her unusual sexual experience and trauma with a younger guy. Overall, I like the drama so far.
#10 - Oleksandra - 01/22/2010 - 11:57
author with no words
I don't know what to say. I'm a published author. Very well read. I thought I had gone through all the books, all the classics and great experimental pieces that would help me to learn the craft of writing. And then, later, by chance,I came across A Wild Sheep Chase. After that I read Murakami wrote. Even got my hands on some stuff not available in the US. I have tears in my eyes just thinking about his work. The grace and beauty and flow. The sheer intelligence and imagination. Thank you Haruki Murakami. Thank you.
#11 - margot berwin - 03/18/2010 - 00:36
That's way the bestest anwser so far!
#12 - Starr - 05/03/2011 - 15:54
I love so much his writing, even if one novel ends and I start reading another one, it is like the story goes on for ever, never ending, in the same universe, with the same feeling of hapiness and wonder. I try to slow down my reading in order to keep this emotion longer.
#13 - ro - 06/21/2012 - 09:06
E-mail (Will not appear online)
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Japanese Literature | See also: Murakami Haruki, Tanizaki Junichiro, Yoshimoto Banana, Mishima Yukio, Kawabata Yasunari

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