Haruki Murakami is a contemporary Japanese novelist arguably one of the most popular in the world.
Apart from that, it is incredibly hard to describe him.. He loves cats and jazz music. He is a recluse and seldom appears on public forum not even to market his own books. But he doesn’t need that, his latest book ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage’ opened in US and UK bookstore to be sold out to the long queue of waiting Murakami fans as the midnight toll struck. This phenomenon was last seen only for the Harry Potter book launches. Such excitement in the English literary world for a translated Japanese work is hard to fathom. Yet, Murakami’s stories drifting alternatively between the real and the surreal catering to human emotions have an unparalleled universal appeal.
Murakami’s books have sold more than 3 million copies in US alone, he was the front-runner for the Nobel Prize for literature for the year 2014 and his works originally in Japanese has been translated in over 50 languages. Despite such popularity Haruki isn’t much known across the English reading circles in India, yet this also looks set to change as online bookseller Flipkart and Amazon keep a ready stock of his most popular books 1Q84, Norwegian Wood and the recently released ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage’.
He inspires thoughts in ways hard to recognize. His books inspire in ways subtly as you are hard strained to tie up the loose ends in the story thread and hypothesize about the ifs and buts around the situation the characters face. His stories are like no other you have ever read or heard or seen and yet you know that the characters in his books are somehow a part of you.
They are often seen in an everyday ordinary setting before the dream world beckons to them. Consider the book 1Q84, which begins when Aomame, the female serial killer protagonist attempting to beat rush hour traffic in Tokyo’s expressway is transported to a parallel mythical universe with two moons from an emergency staircase. Most of the characters are seemingly struck in a monotonous routine dealing with love and loneliness, rejection and resurgence wherein they are dealing with demons of the past. Sounds familiar, it can’t be, not when the plot unfolds within ancient myths, with supernatural leprechauns appearing out of dead goat’s mouth and there’s a love story which transcends dimensions.
While dealing with human desire and demons of the past, his characters emit an aura of being a survivor. When Murakami writes about lust or desire, he does it in a manner most unconventional (“It was like her pubic hair was part of her thinking process.”). Yet, he himself requests his reader not to consider his depiction of sex scenes as erotica but simply as sexual depiction, cause otherwise he might feel like a pervy uncle. This man is astounding to say the least.
So, if you like many other across the world are yearning for a fantasy fiction book that excites you after you have exhausted your supply of LOTR and Harry Potter and Inheritance trilogy, Haruki Marukami presents a good read especially the Norwegian Woods and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Rest, if you do like him like millions of his loyal fans across the world, then you can go on to read more of his works, if you so choose.
By Shriya Dargan