Author Anniversary: Haruki Murakami

Japan's premier novelist was born on January 12, 1949 in the city of Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture. Murakami began writing at the age of 29 after attending a baseball game. The story goes that an American came up to bat, hit a double, and Murakami realized he could write a novel. Here's how Murakami describes himself before that fateful moment: "I didn't write anything. I was just one of those ordinary people. I was running a jazz club, and I didn't create anything at all." 

Murakami writes in the style of magical realism, meaning his stories are rich with humanity and steeped in the everyday but typically have elements of the supernatural. It might be a town run by cats or a staircase that changes reality. This is not to say Murakami writes fanciful stories with pixie dust and happy endings. His tales are often harrowing and visceral, using sincere emotion to keep a reality at the forefront. Murakami uses the unexplainable to portray the absurdity of humanity and our actions. Norwegian Wood is heralded as one of his best novels while being the least Murakmi-esque in style. It follows Toru and Naoko, a couple drawn together after the suicide of a mutual friend. The novel explores dangers of devotion and dependence. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a mystery concerning a man's lost wife and Japan's subterranean history. His longest novel, 1Q84, clocks in around 1100 pages over three books. While long it is not incredibly dense, just heavy with existence. Simultaneously telling the story of a Sean Connery lusting assassin and fiction writing math teacher, 1Q84 puts dreamscapes to shame in its imagination. Outside of his novels, Murakami has multiple short story collections, a memoir on the joy of running, and a transcribed series of interviews with survivors of the Tokyo subway attack in 1995. 

Norwegian Wood (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375704024
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Published: Vintage - September 12th, 2000

First American Publication

This stunning and elegiac novel by the author of the internationally acclaimed Wind-Up Bird Chronicle has sold over 4 million copies in Japan and is now available to American audiences for the first time. It is sure to be a literary event.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679775430
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Published: Vintage - September 1st, 1998

Japan's most highly regarded novelist now vaults into the first ranks of international fiction writers with this heroically imaginative novel, which is at once a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II.

1Q84 (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307476463
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Published: Vintage - January 22nd, 2013

"Murakami is like a magician who explains what he's doing as he performs the trick and still makes you believe he has supernatural powers . . . But while anyone can tell a story that resembles a dream, it's the rare artist, like this one, who can make us feel that we are dreaming it ourselves." --The New York Times Book Review

What I Talk about When I Talk about Running: A Memoir (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307389831
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Published: Vintage - August 11th, 2009

An intimate look at writing, running, and the incredible way they intersect, from the incomparable, bestselling author Haruki Murakami.While simply training for New York City Marathon would be enough for most people, Haruki Murakami's decided to write about it as well.

Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375725807
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Published: Vintage Books USA - April 10th, 2001

In this haunting work of journalistic investigation, Haruki Murakami tells the story of the horrific terrorist attack on Japanese soil that shook the entire world.