Monday, 28 December 2015

Read This: Haruki Murakami

It's hard to believe that at the start of 2015 I hadn't heard of Haruki Murakami. Even more shocking as a self-confessed Japanophile - it makes me wonder what else might have passed me by in the last ~28 years but that's for another day. Now, in this lull between Christmas and New Year I want to be inside, immersed in a book, preferably within comfortable distance of a roaring open fire with a Hendricks and tonic in easy reach (easy on the tonic, there). In reality, this period for the last four years has been spent in a three-quarters empty office with only a tin of the reject Quality Streets that no one wants for company but let's go back to the fireside image and Murakami, shall we?

Reading more was a 2015 resolution that I definitely kept to and probably gained me a lot more pleasure than the ones I didn't keep (go on three consecutive dates with the same person; save money).  Murakami's books immerse you into a world that is at once familiar (I have ridden the ridiculously confusing Tokyo subway and battled the crowds at Shinjuku station), pleasantly dated (1980s Japan; mobile phones not being in any way a thing; coffee and Dunkin Donuts) and downright absurd (a sky with two moons; a sheep-man; a shapely teenager in a pink suit talking of inklings and a fascination with cats and wells). Every book I have read so far has drawn me in - I read the 1Q84 trilogy while travelling in Korea and Japan and the characters felt as real as my own adventures there, I wonder how things worked out for the protagonist of The Rat trilogy and if anyone actually has a career as an ear model.

The novels are translated from the Japanese and this in itself amazes me - Japanese is so linguistically and culturally different from English but the books feel so natural. Murakami and I share a passion for running - him more enthusiastically than me having run countless marathons in seriously impressive times. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running did actually cross my radar as a running book a couple of years ago but I had no idea who had written it - the book is a short but essential read for anyone who loves running and explores the connection between writing and running: "Most runners run not because thy want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest".

The books I've read this year. 
Are you a Murakami fan? I still have a few novels to read but I'm saving them to savour slowly and carefully in between other books now. It is such a joy to newly discover a writing with such a prolific back catalogue to discover anew.

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2 comments

  1. 1Q84 though. I could read that trilogy over and over again! You should read Norwegian Wood too - a Murakami essential!

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  2. I adore Murakami and have done for years and years. You should read Hard boiled wonderland - it's one of my favourites.

    I find it intriguing that the translations are probably way different to the original. Even more so, that there are only a few dedicated translators for his work (in order for the books to have the same tone) and that there are loads and loads of his works that will never be translated! It's crazy.

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