Japanese Author Haruki Murakami - "Writing is like rhythm in music and running"


The famous Japanese author Haruki Murakami has written many novels, short stories, essays and non-fiction and most of his works are translated in English and have got good recognition. Since his childhood he had a great passion for books and western Classical and Jazz music. This article gives details about the author and his magnificent works.

Introduction

Haruki Murakami is a famous Japanese author and is considered by some as a prospective contender for Nobel prize in literature. He is a very unique writer who always expresses his feelings about his writings as equivalent to rhythmic flow of music. In 1979, he got his first novel 'Hear the Wind Sing' published and in 1979 itself, he won the Gunzou Literature Prize of Japan for budding writers.

About the Author

Haruki Murakami was born in the year 1948 in Kyoto, Japan. Both of his parents were teachers of same subject that is Japanese literature. He was the only child and was brought up mainly in Kobe where he did his high school. Later he studied drama at Waseda University in Tokyo. During that time he met Yoko, now his wife. Since his childhood, Murakami was fascinated by the different books and music especially Russian literature and western music and was passionate about them. He also liked crime thrillers much. He was also much influenced by the European and American writers like Franz Kafka, Gustave Flaubert, Charles Dickens, Kurt Vonnegut, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Richard Brautigan and Jack Kerouac. There is a perceptible influence of western literature on the writings of Murakami and it differentiates him in his style from other Japanese writers.

After his education, his first job was in a record store and thereafter he along with his wife opened a coffee house and Jazz bar. Name of the shop was 'Peter Cat' and it was in Kokubunji, Tokyo. In fact he wanted to become a musician but seeing his inability to play the music instruments he changed his ambition and decided for becoming a writer.

Not only music, Murakami had a great interest in running and he undertook his first ultra marathon, a 100 km race, encircling lake Saroma in Hokkaido, Japan. He has narrated his interest in running in his memoir book 'What I Talk About When I Talk About Running'.

He has extensively travelled in Europe and America and presently he resides in Tokyo, Japan.

Writings of Murakami

Basically Murakami has interests in music, books and running. He himself told that he was one of those ordinary persons who are listening to music or going to see sports or games and things like that. In fact he did not write anything till he was 29. He had narrated one incident of his life to all his friends and fans that one day in the year 1978, when he was watching a baseball game and when a player hit a double, he suddenly realized that he could write a novel. It was a strange and impulsive feeling but it was going to be true. He also told that with that feeling he started to write a novel same day night. During day time he was working in the bar and in the nights continued to write the novel. In 10 months he finished his first novel 'Hear the Wind Sing' and sent it to the literary contest where it won the first prize.

After the success of his first novel 'Hear the Wind Sing' published in 1979, he wrote a sequel to it named as 'Pinball, 1973' and the next one 'A Wild Sheep Chase' which were very successful. These three books in succession became a famous trilogy known as the Trilogy of Rat in which there was an unnamed narrator and his friend 'the Rat'. Initially the English translation of the first two books was not available but in 2015 they got translated. It is said that the author Murakami thought those works as childish and mediocre and did not do sincere attempts to get them translated. Regarding the third book in this trilogy he was happy and satisfied. In his own words regarding this third book he says "The first book where I could feel a kind of sensation, the joy of telling a story. When you read a good story, you just keep reading. When I write a good story, I just keep writing."

First person narration is one common style among the authors in Japan and many of the works of Murakami are in this pattern only. His titles and themes are inspired by classical music. He always says that his books are like a musical composition having a noticeable rhythm and a perceptible flow.

Notable Works

Murakami has written a number of novels, short stories, memoirs, essays and non-fiction and most of them are translated in English giving him worldwide publicity among book lovers. He himself took great interest in translation process of his books in English probably to maintain their originality and essence. Many of his works have been translated in the languages other than English also. Among the long list of his works, some of the notable are - A Wild Sheep Chase (year 1982), Norwegian Wood (year 1987), The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (year 1995), Kafka on the Shore (year 2002) and 1Q84 (year 2009). Some of his works have been adopted for movies as well as stage plays.

The overwhelming response and success of his book 'Norwegian Wood', in the year year 1987, made him a celebrity overnight and he was so much mobbed and disturbed by his fans that for some time he left Japan and travelled in outside countries for a substantial time.

Murakami is a very versatile writer. He has even translated from English to Japanese - many works of English writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Carver, Truman Capote, John Irving and Paul Theroux.

Awards and Recognition

Murakami got many awards for his books. In 1979, he got Gunzo Award for his debut novel - Hear the Wind Sing, in 1982, he received Noma Literary Prize for his book - A Wild Sheep Chase, then in 1985 his book 'Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World' got the Tanizaki Prize, in 1995 he got Yomiuri prize for - The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, in 1999 he had Kuwabara Takeo prize for his work - Underground, in 2006 he got two awards namely World Fantasy Award for his novel - Kafka on the Shore and Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award for his collection of 24 stories as 'Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman' and then in 2016, he was awarded Hans Christian Andersen Literature award for his creative works.

Murakami was the recipient of prestigious Franz Kafka Prize. He received it in 2006. In the year 2007, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of Letters from the University of Liege. Then in the year 2008, he got same honour from Princeton University. Further in 2014, he was honoured with same degree from Tuffs University.

In 2009, he was chosen for the Israel's coveted 'Jerusalem Prize' and was invited to attend it. This prize is given to writers who write about human freedom, society, politics and government. There was a resentment in Japan for his joining the prize ceremony due to Israel's bombing operations in Gaza. He chose to go there but was bold enough and criticised openly the Israel's highhandedness in the area and suggested to change the scenario at an earliest.

Murakami was a writing fellow at various top universities of the world like Princeton, Massachusetts, Harvard and Cambridge and some of his creative works were produced there only.

Conclusion

Murakami is a Japanese author but his works are recognised all over the globe and some of his books have sold in very large numbers. His radio and TV programs are well received by the audiences and he is a living inspirational legend for the young and budding authors.


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