Happy Birthday Haruki Murakami!
Haruki Murakami (村上 春樹) (born January 12, 1949) – Japanese novelist – Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage (2015)
Read the Wikipedia article about Haruki Murakami
Read an interview of Murakami
Tsukuru Tazaki, as the author calls his own novel for short [Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage], sold a million copies in two weeks when it came out last summer in Japan. (Murakami was born in Kyoto to two literature teachers, and grew up in the port city of Kobe. These days he lives near Tokyo, having spent periods in Greece, at Princeton and Tufts universities – where he wrote his masterpiece, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle– and recently in Hawaii.)
Murakami has often spoken of the theme of two dimensions, or realities, in his work: a normal, beautifully evoked everyday world, and a weirder supernatural realm, which may be accessed by sitting at the bottom of a well (as does the hero of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, or by taking the wrong emergency staircase off a city expressway (as in 1Q84). Sometimes dreams act as portals between these realities.
Read about Murakami’s writing style in this 2014 Atlantic article “The Mystery of Murakami – His sentences can be awful, his plots are formulaic—yet his novels mesmerize”
Page after page, we are confronted with the riddle that is Murakami’s prose. No great writer writes as many bad sentences as Murakami does. His crimes include awkward construction (“Just as he appreciated Sara’s appearance, he also enjoyed the way she dressed”); cliché addiction (from a single, paragraph-long character description: “He really hustled on the field … He wasn’t good at buckling down … He always looked people straight in the eye, spoke in a clear, strong voice, and had an amazing appetite … He was a good listener and a born leader”); and lazy repetition (“Sara gazed at his face for some time before speaking,” followed shortly by “Sara gazed at Tsukuru for a time before she spoke”). The dialogue is often robotic, if charmingly so.
Murakami’s impoverished language situates us in a realm of utter banality, a simplified black-and-white world in which everything is as it appears. When, inevitably, we pass through a wormhole into an uncanny dimension of fantasy and chaos, the contrast is unnerving.
Murakami writes genre fiction—formulaic, conventional, with an emphasis on plot. But it is a genre that he has invented himself, drawing elements from fantasy, noir, horror, sci-fi, and the genre we call “literary fiction.” The other ingredient, which we tend to think of as antithetical to genre fiction, is a hostility to tidy resolution.