Author Focus – Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami is an award winning Japanese author from Kyoto who is one of the few Asian writers to enjoy regular success in the west.

He was born on January 12th 1949 to two Japanese literature teachers who obviously had a huge impact on their sons life. Murakami studied at Waseda University and was heavily influenced by western culture.

Murakami started writing at the age of 29 in 1978. The story goes that it was when he saw Dave Hilton hit a double at a baseball game that he decided he could write. He did and the rest is history.

Murakami has won a number of awards over the years including the Franz Kafka Prize in 2006. He has often been spoken about in terms of winning the Nobel Prize for Literature but that has still to happen.

A number of his films have been adapted for film and theatre and has released 14 novels to date which are;

Hear the Wind Sing (1979)

Pinball, 1973 (1980)

A Wild Sheep Chase (1982

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (1985)

Norwegian Wood (1987)

Dance Dance Dance (1988)

South of the Border, West of the Sun (1992)

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1994)

Sputnik Sweetheart (1999)

Kafka on the Shore (2002)

After Dark (2004)

IQ84 (2009)

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years if Pilgrimage (2013)

Killing Commendatore (2017)

As well as his novels he has also released a number of short stories which have also proved to be popular with his readers.

It is another strange thing about Murakami’s work that he will usually write a cat into the story somewhere. When asked about this he states that it was probably because he is fond of cats. Incidentally, following university he ran a jazz bar called Peter Cat.

Murakami’s western influences are shown in the kind of things he grew up reading with names like Franz Kafka, Charles Dickens and Jack Kerouac among the list. It is probably this influence that is behind the success of his work all around the world and not just in Japan.

Though he himself is a translator of certain works he never translates his own novels into English, instead choosing to leave that up to someone else. He was also keen to avoid getting his first two novels translated as he felt they were flimsy works. I am sure his armies of adoring fans would disagree with that sentiment though.

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