Murakami: The man and the writer

February 6, 2013 , by Shreya Thapa, Leave your thoughts
Murakami: The man and the writer » My Dreams Mag

Without a doubt, Haruki Murakami has made a name for himself within the world of post-modern literature. Drawing attention for many years, Murakami’s most recent reason for hitting the news can be summed up in three numbers and one letter—1Q84. The novel, which released in English in 2011—two years after the original publication in Japanese—was much awaited by global fans, and is generally considered to be yet another success.

For success is something Murakami is well acquainted with.  At 29, young Murakami was a bar owner and as the famed tale goes, while watching a baseball game he realised he could write a story. The thought turned into his first novel, which won a literary content. Since then, awards and recognition have yet to come to a halt. In fact, Murakami and his wife left Japan for several years in order to escape the pressure of his mounting fame.

So what is it about a Japanese man who was heavily influenced by western music and literature that has captured the attention of readers the world over?  For starters, he has carved a unique Murakami-shaped style that audiences can’t seem to get enough of. Writing primarily about young characters who are conflicted to a certain degree, the deeper psychology that is hidden in numerous works are bounced against an almost magical world creating literature that is completely new in Japan and thoroughly enjoyable just about anywhere.

For a taste, the novel Kafka on the Shore is a perfect introduction to the works of Murakami. In this novel, reality, fantasy, and mystery merge in a subtle but effective way sucking readers into the life of a young boy and a much older man, both whohave many questions. In what has become trademark Murakami-format, strange events transpire on the helm of the surreal and ordinary people move towards relationships and growth in unpredictable ways.

The quest for growth and transformation into adulthood is non more apparent that in Norwegian Wood—the novel that is probably Murakami’s most well known work.  Without any hints of alternative realities, this novel probably became an overnight success as it depicts the honesty, difficulties, and vulnerabilities of young love, as well as commenting on the human condition.


After one or two novels, there are themes and facets that tend to overlap and repeat themselves. Murakami seems to have a penchant for cats, music, near coming-of-age youth, love, relationships, and sex, which are evident in Kafka and Norwegian Woods, as well as in 1Q84. While he has the gift of being able to reuse content without boring readers, this author is still just as impressive when working on non-fiction.
In a starkly different Underground, Murakami takes a backseat as a writer and focuses on collecting and completing the accounts of people who were victims of the Tokyo gas attack. Though the stories are in first person narratives, Murakami is ever present in the brief introduction he writes for each contributor and in the thoughts and details he chooses to mention. The diversion from his usual literary ventures only adds credibility to what Murakami is capable of and what he offers. And as a prominent literary figure, Murakami is a name all readers should be acquainted with

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