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Have Any Of You Read Murakami?

Over the past week I read Sputnik Sweetheart, Norwegian Wood, and The Wind Up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami. Not sure what I think yet, or how to talk about these three books.

Are any of you Murakami fans?  What do you like about his work?  Which of his books do you think is the best starting point for a newbie like me?



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  • Benjamin Kalish April 8, 2013, 5:27 pm

    I love Murakami. My favorites are probably A Hard Boiled Wonderland at the End of the World, and The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, but he also writes excellent short stories. I recommend his collection “The Elephant Vanishes”, which is great.

    I love Murakami’s attention to detail, and the way he places the fantastic and the mundane side by side. I also very much the language, credit which must go to the translators.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 9, 2013, 3:33 pm

      I asked a few people at work today and A Hard Boiled Woneerland was the clear favorite. Looking forward to it now.

  • Harvee April 9, 2013, 8:17 am

    I loved 1Q84, which I was able to zip through on my Kindle.
    Here are my thoughts: 1Q84 or if you visit my blog and search for the book title on the upper left corner.

    Also, I recommend my first Murakami, After Dark, which I also reviewed.
    After Dark

    You can tell I’m a Murakami fan!

    • Josh Hanagarne April 9, 2013, 3:32 pm

      Thanks Harvee, they’re both on the list. Great reviews.

  • Ayelet April 9, 2013, 8:20 am

    I also love Murakami, although I always think I’m missing something really deep when I read his books. Still, the reason I like his books is much like Benjamin said above – it feels like he’s describing a surrealist world when he writes. It reminds me of the magic realism of Latin America, but in a very Japanese style.

    I’ve only read The Wind Up Bird Chronicle and Kafka on the Shore so far.

  • Sunny Purdin April 12, 2013, 9:04 am

    He is one of my favorites! I agree with the above commenter. He can make something as mundane as cooking seem exciting and fresh, while making fantasy seem perfectly normal.

    I can’t believe you read those so quickly! I think Wind Up Bird Chronicle is my favorite, but I would suggest most people start with Norwegian Wood. (The movie was quite great as well!)

    • Benjamin Kalish April 12, 2013, 10:13 am

      Yes! I love when Murakami writes about cooking! Fantastic! Even simple acts like boiling water are interesting through his eyes.

      Of course, exciting writing about cooking isn’t that unusual, but Murakami’s passionate writing about the mundane extends to even such unexpected subjects as the quality of couches! His writing definitely has made me look at the world in a different way.

      • Josh Hanagarne April 13, 2013, 11:08 am

        Benjamin, I would love it if you could steer me to some exciting writing about cooking. I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

        • Benjamin Kalish April 15, 2013, 8:06 am

          I actually don’t read a lot of writing on cooking, though I know it’s out there. One example I have read is Mouth Wide Open: A Cook and His Appetite, by John Thorne. Short, idiosyncratic essays, by a man who is very passionate about cooking and food. I liked it a lot.

          I am sure you can find more examples on this list: http://www.forbeslibrary.org/research/index.php?n=ReadingLists.BooksAboutFood

          • Josh Hanagarne April 15, 2013, 12:16 pm

            Wonderful, thank you. Have you read The Debt To Pleasure by John Lanchester? Wonderfully creepy novel narrated by a very disturbed foodie.

          • Benjamin Kalish April 23, 2013, 2:27 pm

            Thanks, Josh. I haven’t read it, but I’m adding it to my reading list!

          • Josh Hanagarne April 23, 2013, 2:35 pm

            Great, please let me know how it goes.

  • Monika April 23, 2013, 11:15 am

    Oh my gosh, yes! He is my favorite author. “TV People” (which is one of the stories in “The Elephant Vanishes”) got me hooked. I love magical realism, I love that surreal, dreamlike feeling I get reading his books… and there’s still a bit of mystery, a bit of sci-fi, and even romance (which I normally avoid, but Murakami is such a master, he always gets away with it and makes me like it!).

    Oh, and being a musician, I love all the classical/jazz references in his books! 😉