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

Jean-Christophe Castelli
Tokyo Prose
  March 1993
  Haarper's Bazaar

In "The Elephant Vanishes," Haruki Murakami's stories of modern-day Japan have an oddball logic all their own.
An advertising copywriter's marriage unravels after three miniature people install an imaginary TV set in his living room; a Tokyo housewife spends so much time reading Russian novels that Anna Karenina becomes more real to her than her own family; and in the title story of Haruki Murakami's new collection, The Elephant Vanishes (Knopf), the pachyderm from the local zoo does just that, inexplicably, into think air.

Hauntingly strange, Murakami's stories read like distress signals from behind the cathode looking glass of contemporary Japan; they are allegories for a nation sleepwalking through prosperity, bumping into the shrouded furniture of its history on the way to the gleaming electronic future. "And everywhere, infinite options, infinite possibilities," says the narrator in "A Slow Boat to China." "An infinity and at the same time, zero. We try to scoop it up in our hands, and what we get is a handful of zero."
"We [in Japan] got rich in the last 20 years, but we don't have pride," says Murakami, whose quirky fantasies mask an acute social criticism. "We don't know who we are, and we don't know where we are going or what our purpose is -- sometimes we feel at a loss." Currently a visiting fellow at Princeton University, he has found refuge from adoring fans and carping critics, both of which are legions back home.

Murakami's round, open face and shy demeanor make him seem considerably younger than his 43 years; it's hard to believe that this reflective man in jeans and a sweatshirt is a best-selling pop idol who can't walk unmolested down a Tokyo street.
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