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

Sam North
Haruki Murakami - outside looking in


It is a curious thing to be entranced by such an enigmatic writer as Haruki Murakami.
Since the very moment 'A Wild Sheep Chase' was translated into English almost a decade ago, or longer, I wait each year for a new book from him. Sometimes it is a very long wait indeed, two, three years and then suddenly several come along in the space of a month. Last June in the UK ‘Norwegian Wood and ‘Underground’ were released and a revised version of ‘A Wild Sheep Chase’ issued. Murakami is in danger of becoming ‘popular’.



My interest with this author began on the recommendation of the scholar John Lewell who spent years putting together an anthology of Japanese fiction in translation published in Japan and New York near the beginning of this decade.


He would say read so and so it would be different, always interesting and some of the stories still haunt me, but Murakami was immediately different. He caught my imagination and soul in much the same way that Kafka once spoke to me when I was young or in particular Albert Camus with 'L’Etranger' and 'La Peste.'



These were extraordinary books and I know they deeply affected a generation of people and still do. Nevertheless, I would read, be amused, be thrilled, be bored, but nothing again entranced me and placed flesh on my shadow, not until ‘A Wild Sheep Chase’ that is.


Here was a rare tale of an alienated Japanese man lured into a netherworld, a mystical world where sheep were exotic (they were late in being introduced to Japan) and the young women were eroticised not by their sexual antics, but by simply possessing perfect ears, or the most exquisite nose. There were characters who sole purpose in life was to wait for the main character to arrive and if he didn’t, one felt they would still be waiting in that strange hotel with a lift that stops between floors. Japan was transformed from an industrial giant into a quirky, magical, ethereal place filled with highly erotic characters and others who could not understand the society they lived in.
I suspect that Murakami found the Japan hard to live in once he found fame and I know that between 1991 and 1995 he lived and taught in America, shunning publicity.

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