Murakami & Magical Realism
One of my all-time favorite authors is the contemporary Japanese novelist, Haruki Murakami. His works are unique and philosophical; his characters are unorthodox and existential. The writing is straight forward and yet contemplating deeper things. Murakami paints worlds not unlike our own, and yet the fantastical aspects are ruminating and symbolic of connections to our world and the human experience. The lines between reality and fantasy become blurred in the dream-like realms of Murakami’s novels where you’ll be able to find yourself in each of the characters, and then lose yourself in a fantastic tale.
Who Is Haruki Murakami?
Born in 1949 in Kyoto, Japan, Murakami didn’t become an author until the age of thirty. The story goes that while watching a baseball game one day, Murakami came to the realization that he could write a novel. He’d never written one before or believed he’d had the talent to, but on that day, Murakami returned home and began to write. Previously the owner of a jazz bar, Murakami was able to start his career as a novelist with sweeping success, and he continues even now, writing his stories. His unconventional entry into the literary world stirred up criticism in many due to his unique style of writing and his lack of training as an author. However, despite these criticisms, his works are internationally popular, and he has racked up numerous literary awards.
Now certainly one of the greatest authors of this modern age, he’s not only had several of his novels adapted into films; including Norwegian Wood, Hear the Song of the Wind, Tony Takitani, Burningand Hanalei Bay; but he also has written over thirty books, all of which are best sellers. He’s been translated into more than fifty languages, and Murakami has also translated works by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, Raymond Carver, John Cheever and others into Japanese. His stories are innovative, inspiring, and deeply thoughtful. Some of his best-known titles are The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, 1Q84, Norwegian Wood and Kafka on the Shore.
A genre that Murakami plays in frequently is magical realism. Neither entirely fantasy or fully reality, magical realism is a genre that has been able to draw in and excite readers. Murakami’s writing is affected by real-world events, and his novels can inspire thought as well as make commentaries about the state of the world. In an interview with The New Yorker Murakami stated: “When I’m writing novels, reality and unreality just naturally get mixed together. It’s not as if that was my plan and I’m following it as I write, but the more I try to write about reality in a realistic way, the more the unreal world invariably emerges.” Philosophical and sociological, Murakami’s stories dwell in a dream-like humanity that encourages readers to see the world from unique perspectives. Reading his books will likely leave you perplexed, enthralled and yearning for more.