JAPAN: “I write prose just like I play music”, quoted by Haruki Murakami, who was the owner of a Jazz club in Tokyo before he became a writer.
72-year-old Murakami is a celebrated author and one of the most prominent figures writing in the magical realism world.
With stylish prose, Haruki Murakami entreats magical worlds laminating ours.
Furthermore, he focuses on ‘slice of life’ scenes. He describes simple everyday chores like cooking and grocery shopping in minute details that make his writing captivating.
Reminder of nascent youth
In my opinion, Murakami writes chiefly about the experience of adolescence. Two of the great example of this become South of the Border, West of the Sun.
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It contains some extremely poignant explorations of coming of age, early relationships with women as so on and so forth. As the protagonist transitions to adulthood, he never escapes the emotions and memories from the early period of his life.
In Murakami’s stories, the narrator is superiorly always seems as a misfit into the world he ostensibly exists in.
Even his books with adult protagonists like in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle describe adolescence. The protagonist in the same is faced with inexplicable changes in himself, his relationships with women, and the world around him that somehow recalled his childhood for him.
The changes hence, bring him slowly into a new, more obscure world in which he must function, but is unequipped to do so. All among the wet dreams and the queerly mystifying relationship with the girl next door evokes the heady confusion of adolescence.
Murakami’s work: a towpath of contemporary Japan
Adolescence and alienation from mankind are interesting tropes in the context of Japanese literature.
Scrutinizing the conflicting demands of indebtedness and human emotions has been a theme of Japanese literature since the beginning of time. And since Japan has an extremely homogeneous society, it’s a perfect fruit salad for adolescent alienation as they don’t tolerate differentiation.
His works prominently are divided into two primary categories, first that deal primarily with the aspects of the human psyche, then secondly those concerned with the modern Japanese psyche, and how therein the harsh facts of the Second World War settle. The best exemplification of each approach is found in his best-regarded work, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.
It explores the unspoken guilt of WWII, the ephemeral layers of human consciousness, as well as the third great theme of his writings: the disassociation one may feel from the status-quo of the society in which you may find yourself.
While the first of the three themes may be specific to one nation of people, the other two to transcend any racial or cultural boundary, a fact reinforced by the numerous allusions to the pop culture – particularly western music and literature – enjoyed by Murakami himself.
Ultimately, what I find fascinating is his cosmopolitan perspective on those issues he is most acutely aware of, as they apply through the Japanese people in particular and out towards any and all who may pick up his works.
The author launched his new book ‘first-person singular’ in July 2020. It is a collection of short stories written in the first person as the title suggests. The bookmarked the author’s return to his signature style.