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Associated Press
Japanese writer probes soul's dark kingdom
  November 24, 2000

Haruki Murakami likes to think of himself as a lost little boy. And he speaks in low, unassuming tones about his talent -- "if I have one."

But if the most influential Japanese novelist of his generation has the heart of a shy, thoughtful child, he's also intent on creating his share of mischief.

"Those stories do dangerous things to some of the readers," says Murakami, youthful and athletic at 51, in a gray T-shirt and jeans. "It's kind of a poisonous injection -- that's what I want to do."

Murakami is pushing that poison to his American readership in unprecedented doses.

A translation of the novel that made him a literary star in Japan -- "Norwegian Wood" -- was published by Vintage Books in September. Two more recent novels have hit U.S. bookstores since 1997, and another two titles are due out next year.

The full-throttled move into the U.S. marketplace is greatly expanding the writer's presence on American bookshelves, and giving his fans there an ever-widening look into his enigmatic, often troubling work.

Disconcerting twists
Murakami's books are full of disorienting twists: characters crawl down wells and slip into netherworlds; they come face to face with evil and lose their souls; their personalities split apart.
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