Haruki Murakami

“If you onl read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking”  – Haruki Murakami

Last January 12th, we celebrated the birthday of Haruki Murakami, one of the best writers of modern literature.

Winner of the Franz Kafka Prize, the Jerusalem Prize and the Frank O’ Connor intenational Short Story Award, Haruki Murakami is one of the most acclaimed writers, one example is Steven Poole from “The Guardian”, he praised Murakami as “among the world’s greatest living novelists” for his works and achievements.

His notable works include 1Q84, Kafka on the Shore, Norwegian Wood, and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

Murakami’s works are frequently surrealistic and nihilistic, marked by a Kafkaesque rendition of themes of loneliness and alienation.

He is considered an important figure in postmodern literature.

Some Haruki Murakami trivia:

The English version of his novel After Dark was released in May 2007 and it was chosen by the New York Times as a “notable book of the year”.

In 2011, Murakami donated his €80,000 winnings from the International Catalunya Prize (from the Generalitat of Catalunya) to the victims of the 11 March earthquake and tsunami, and to those affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Accepting the award, he said in his speech that the situation at the Fukushima plant was “the second major nuclear disaster that the Japanese people have experienced… however, this time it was not a bomb being dropped upon us, but a mistake committed by our very own hands.”

According to Murakami, the Japanese people should have rejected nuclear power after having “learned through the sacrifice of the hibakusha just how badly radiation leaves scars on the world and human wellbeing”.

In recent years, Haruki Murakami has often been mentioned as a possible recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Nonetheless, all nomination records for a prize are sealed for 50 years from the awarding of the prize so it is pure speculation.

When asked about the possibility of being awarded the Nobel Prize, Murakami responded with a laugh saying…

“No, I don’t want prizes. That means you’re finished”.

Other writers that Haruki Murakami admires are Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Murakami also had a passion for listening to music. Through its influence by listening to melodies and the like it was considered helpful while writing.

When he was around the age of 14 he began to develop an interest for Jazz. He would later open the Peter Cat which was a coffeehouse and jazz bar alongside his wife in 1984.

To him, like writing, music, particularly Jazz was a mental journey. Later aspired to be a musician but could not play instruments well and focused on writing.

Many of his novels have themes and titles that invoke classical music, such as the three books making up The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: The Thieving Magpie (after Rossini’s opera), Bird as Prophet (after a piano piece by Robert Schumann usually known in English as The Prophet Bird), and The Bird-Catcher (Papageno in Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute).

Some of his novels take their titles from songs: Dance, Dance, Dance (after The Dells’ song, although it is widely thought it was titled after the Beach Boys tune), Norwegian Wood (after The Beatles’ song) and South of the Border, West of the Sun (after the song “South of the Border”).

Murakami is a marathon runner and triathlete enthusiast, though he did not start running until he was 33 years old.

On June 23, 1996, he completed his first ultramarathon, a 100-kilometer race around Lake Saroma in Hokkaido, Japan.

He discusses his relationship with running in his 2008 memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

Since childhood, Haruki Murakami has been heavily influenced by Western culture, particularly Western music and literature.

He grew up reading a wide range of works by American writers, such as Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Brautigan and Jack Kerouac. These Western influences distinguish Murakami from other Japanese writers.

A tribute to Haruki Murakami!


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