I didn't have much to say to anybody but kept to myself and my books. With my eyes closed, I would touch a familiar book and draw it's fragrance deep inside me. This was enough to make me happy.Haruki Murakami is a Japanese author whose brilliant writing focuses on themes of alienation, apathy and loneliness that appeal to young generations of readers.
― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood
The Baseball Game
Chance encounters are what keep us going.Murakami didn't write a single thing before the age of 29. He got married and opened a jazz bar in Kokubunji in Tokyo.
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
In 1978, he went to a baseball game at Meiji Jingu Stadium in Tokyo. It was the Yakult Swallows vs Hiroshima Carp. An American named Dave Hilton came to bat. In the instant that Hilton hit a double Murakami suddenly realized that he could write a book.
He went home and wrote a 130 page book called Hear the Wind Sing and sent it in to a literary contest. It won and the book was published in a Gunzo (a influential Japanese literary magazine).
He went on to a career as a best selling novelist.
Sometimes when I look at you, I feel I'm gazing at a distant star.Murakami's novels have a Catcher in the Rye quality that captivates young readers. More than any other modern Japanese writer, his books have international appeal.
It's dazzling, but the light is from tens of thousands of years ago.
Maybe the star doesn't even exist any more. Yet sometimes that light seems more real to me than anything.
― Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun
Murakami is a Western pop culture fan. Both of his parents taught literature (his father was a Buddhist monk). He grew up reading the likes of Raymond Carver, Kurt Vonnegut and Truman Capote. He's a diehard music fan whose first job was working in a record store. Many of his novels take their titles from songs including Dance, Dance, Dance (The Dells) and Norwegian Wood (The Beatles).
Norwegian Wood is the 3rd best selling Japanese novel of all time at 12 million copies. Much like Catcher in the Rye ― teenagers and college students identify with its protagonist. It's a nostalgic story of youth alienation.
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Everything, everything seemed once-upon-a-time.Much of Murakami's writing has a surrealist quality. Some of it goes so far as to be considered fantasy (genre).
― Haruki Murakami, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is considered Murakami's strangest novel. Its chapters alternate between two dreamlike narratives — the Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World.
Kafka on the Shore
Narrow minds devoid of imagination. Intolerance, theories cut off from reality, empty terminology, usurped ideals, inflexible systems. Those are the things that really frighten me. What I absolutely fear and loathe.Murakami's recent works are increasingly political. He's deeply critical of right wing elements in Japanese society and around the world. Many of his later works deal with themes of collective trauma such as terrorism, war and earthquakes.
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
Murakami has won countless literary awards. His earlier books received more recognition internationally than in Japan itself. In recent years Japan's literary establishment is warming to Murakami.
I've always done whatever I felt like doing in life. People may try to stop me, and convince me I'm wrong, but I won't change.Haruki Murakami has traveled widely and now lives in the United States. He was a writing fellow at Princeton University and Tufts University for a number of years.
― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
He's an avid jogger who first jogged at the age of 33. He's completed several marathons including a 100 kilometer ultramarathon.
Murakami has translated several well known American novels into Japanese including The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye.