Pop Master

Outside looking in
Author in Focus
Garbage Dissect Our Modern Age

Break on through
The elusive Murakami

The Postmodern in Murakamis Novels
Terrorism before WTC
Japanese writer probes souls dark kingdom
Big in Japan
The healer
Murakami shares his thougts with students
A Japanese Novelist in Search of Lost Ideals
Inner space
Haruki Murakami does Seattle
Overview of the hard-boiled fiction of hm
The other Speech
dancing as fast as he can
Tokyo Prose
A Voice from Postmodern Japan
The American Scene
Hi Mr Haruki Murakami
The Return from the Lost world
Presents from the dead

Sarah Wright
Dancing as Fast as He Can
  January 1994
  Boston Magazine


Haruki Murakami, the Madonna of modern Japanese fiction, lives in a summer-squash, apricot, and pumpkin colored house not far from Central Square. The soft-spoken author of mega-best-sellers back home likes Cambridge. Here, nobody knows he's the Tokyo Literary Brat Pack's crown prince. Here, he can stalk the streets in search of used jazz records without being stalked by fans.




On a fall afternoon in Murakami's sparely furnished apartment, the light, filtered through shell-colored miniblinds, shifts as gently as sand. The celebrated author, 44, is dressed in a plaid sports shirt, jeans, and running shoes. He seems cool, but not jaded, on the subject of his own brilliant career. In American terms, he admits, we're talking huge. We're talking "Firm" Grisham, "Kindergarten" Fulghum. We're talking Stephen "The Writing Machine" King.


Or, to put in the Material Girl's terms, Murakami has gone way past double-platinum. His fiction has been translated into Italian, French, German, and Finnish as well as English. More than 2 million copies of his books are in print in Japan alone. And remember, the population of Japan is just half that of the United States.




For Murakami, all this success is "good, very good, because it can buy peace. I don't want a Mercedes. I don't want Armani. Money buys time to write."

But not in Japan. In Cambridge, Massachusetts. In Japan, literary stardom bought Murakami the very opposite of peace and time. It bought sound and fury and not a minute to himself.



It all started with his 1987 novel, Norwegian Wood (yes, named for the Beatles song), which became a sensation while Murakami was off living in Rome. It was, he say, a "very realistic love story, one guy falling in love with two girls, not translatable in English." Norwegian wood has sold more than 4 million copies in Japan, and, from the moment Murakami returned home from Italy, from the moment he arrived at the Tokyo airport (imagine Madonna, sported at the baggage claim in Detroit; imagine Letter or Clapton or Bird, spotted anywhere: the crush of bodies, the cries of "Hey! It's you!"), the demands on his time never let up.


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