Haruki Murakami: Master of surrealism and literary craftsmanship is 75
Haruki Murakami, one of the most celebrated and influential writers in the world, is 75. His novels, which blend realism and fantasy, abs-cbn.com reports, have captivated millions of readers across cultures and languages. He has been a perennial contender for the Nobel Prize in literature, but has yet to win the coveted award.
Murakami was born on January 12, 1949, in Kyoto, Japan, as the grandson of a Buddhist priest. He grew up in Kobe, a port city with a US military base, where he developed a love for Western literature and music. He studied drama and film at Tokyo’s Waseda University, but rarely attended classes. Instead, he grew long hair and a scruffy beard and hung around in clothes that were less than clean.
He had no plans to become a writer until he had a sudden epiphany while watching a baseball game in 1978. He decided to write a novel, and his first work, Hear the Wind Sing, won a prize from a literary magazine. He quit his job at a record store and devoted himself to writing full-time.
His breakthrough came in 1987, when he published “Norwegian Wood,” a nostalgic and melancholic story of love and loss, set in the 1960s. The novel sold millions of copies and made him a celebrity in Japan. He moved to Europe and then to the US, where he taught at Princeton and Harvard. He also translated many English-language authors, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Carver, and J.D. Salinger, into Japanese.
Murakami’s novels are known for their surrealistic elements, such as talking cats, parallel worlds, and mysterious disappearances. His characters are often lonely, alienated, and searching for meaning in a chaotic and absurd world. They also enjoy smoking, drinking, and listening to rock or jazz music. Some of his most acclaimed works include A Wild Sheep Chase, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Kafka on the Shore.
Murakami has received many awards and honours, such as the Franz Kafka Prize, the Jerusalem Prize and the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award. He has also been praised by critics and fellow writers, such as Salman Rushdie, Zadie Smith and David Mitchell. He has a loyal fan base around the world, who eagerly await his new books and attend his public readings.
However, Murakami has also faced some criticism and controversy. Some of his detractors have accused him of being too Westernised, too commercial or too superficial. His novel South of the Border, West of the Sun sparked a media scandal in Germany in 2000, when a famous critic called it “literary fast food” and denounced its sex scenes. Murakami has also been criticised for his silence on political and social issues, such as the nuclear disaster in Fukushima in 2011.
Murakami has said that he does not care about winning the Nobel Prize, and that he writes for himself and his readers. He has also said that he does not consider himself a genius, but rather a hard-working craftsman. He has described writing as being somewhere between cycling slowly and walking quickly, and that it is unsuitable for really intelligent people who like to formulate ideas precisely.
Murakami lives in Tokyo with his wife, Yoko, who is also his editor. He is an avid runner and has completed several marathons and triathlons. He has also written about his passion for running in his memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. He is currently working on a new novel, which he has said will be his longest and most complex yet.