Haruki Murakami

‘Shall I scrub your back for you?” the monkey asked ... He had the clear, alluring voice of a doo-wop baritone. Not at all what you would expect.’ The eight short stories in First Person Singular are exactly what a reader has come to expect from Haruki Murakami, a writer with a penchant for neo-surrealism. The parabolic tales in this collection explore the familiar tropes and motifs of his oeuvre, including loneliness, outsiderness, chance encounters, music (classical, jazz and the Beatles), and memories. While Murakami might not be breaking new ground here, it is still a magical experience to return to his whimsical, eccentric, and enigmatic reimagining of Japan.

... (read more)

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen

by
October 2018, no. 405

There is a running joke in Japan that autumn doesn’t start each year until Haruki Murakami has lost the Nobel Prize for Literature. Most recently, in 2017, he lost to Kazuo Ishiguro, who was born in Japan but is now a British citizen. To date, two Japanese writers have been awarded the prize ...

... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reflects on Haruki Murakami’s writing style and reviews his latest novel.

... (read more)

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, translated by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel

by
March 2012, no. 339

Admirers of Haruki Murakami who waited for two years while successive parts of his twelfth novel sold millions in Japanese, are now rewarded for their patience with a big nugget of a book in English, which is already an international bestseller. The elegant cover shows an enigmatic night sky with two moons, which reappear on the endpapers and between the three parts. Rather than clutter one single page with publication details and Murakami’s numerous other fiction and non-fiction titles, the book’s designers run these in tiny print across the top and bottom margins of the eight endpapers. In the side margins of the text, ‘1Q84’appears halfway down every page, arranged as a cube, above and below which the page numbers move up and down. On the opposite pages, the page numbers also move, but both they and the title are in mirror reverse. What’s more, this idiosyncratic pattern switches over at various, apparently random intervals, from odd to even pages. Q is ku, nine in Japanese, and the letter is said to look like ‘a world that bears a question’, although the answer escapes me. Nothing in 1Q84 will be as it seems.

... (read more)

The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami, translated by Alfred Birnbaum and Jay Rubin

by
February–March 1994, no. 158

Every adventurous reader of fiction ought to have a private hoard of novelists, preferably from a non-English writing background, who have escaped the appalling nonsense of Booker-style PR hype. Luckily, publishers like Collins Harvill set about promoting such writers; unluckily for Australia, though, our major literary pages often neglect to review the bulk of such output. You will have your favourites in such a category, but let this reviewer recommend the following: Jose Donoso, Etienne Leroux, Jose Saramago, Eduardo Mendoza, Saiichi Maruya, and Haruki Murakami.

... (read more)