Haruki Murakami (村上 春樹 Murakami Haruki?, born January 12, 1949) is a Japanese writer and translator. His works of fiction and non-fiction have garnered him critical acclaim and numerous awards, including the Franz Kafka Prize and Jerusalem Prize among others.
He is considered an important figure in postmodern literature. The Guardian praised him as "among the world's greatest living novelists" for his works and achievements.
Murakami was born in Japan during the post–World War II baby boom. Although born in Kyoto, he spent his youth in Shukugawa (Nishinomiya),Ashiya[disambiguation needed] and Kobe. His father was the son of a Buddhist priest, and his mother the daughter of an Osaka merchant. Both taughtJapanese literature.
Since childhood, Murakami has been heavily influenced by Western culture, particularly Western music and literature. He grew up reading a range of works by American writers, such as Kurt Vonnegutand Richard Brautigan, and he is often distinguished from other Japanese writers by his Western influences.
Murakami studied drama at Waseda University in Tokyo, where he met his wife, Yoko. His first job was at a record store, which is where one of his main characters, Toru Watanabe in Norwegian Wood, works. Shortly before finishing his studies, Murakami opened the coffeehouse (jazz bar, in the evening) "Peter Cat" in Kokubunji, Tokyo with his wife. They ran the bar from 1974 until 1981.
Many of his novels have themes and titles that invoke classical music, such as the three books making up The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: The Thieving Magpie (after Rossini's opera overture), Bird as Prophet (after a piano piece by Robert Schumann usually known in English as The Prophet Bird), and The Bird-Catcher (a character in Mozart's opera The Magic Flute). Some of his novels take their titles from songs: Dance, Dance, Dance (after The Dells' song, although it is widely thought it was titled after the Beach Boys tune), Norwegian Wood (after The Beatles' song) and South of the Border, West of the Sun (the first part being the title of a song by Nat King Cole).
Murakami is a keen marathon runner and triathlete, although he did not start running until he was 33 years old. On June 23, 1996, he completed his first ultramarathon, a 100-kilometer race aroundLake Saroma in Hokkaido, Japan. He discusses his relationship with running in his 2008 work What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.
In 1985, Murakami wrote Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, a dream-like fantasy that takes the magical elements in his work to a new extreme. Murakami achieved a major breakthrough and national recognition in 1987 with the publication of Norwegian Wood, a nostalgic story of loss and sexuality. It sold millions of copies among Japanese youths, making Murakami a literary superstar in his native country. The book was printed in two separate volumes, sold together, so that the number of books sold actually doubled, creating the million-copy bestseller hype. One book had a green cover, the other one red.
In 1986, Murakami left Japan, traveled throughout Europe, and settled in the United States. He was a writing fellow at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, and at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. During this time he wrote South of the Border, West of the Sun and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.
An established novelist
In 1994-1995, he published The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, a novel that fuses realistic and fantastic tendencies, and contains elements of physical violence. It is also more socially conscious than his previous work, dealing in part with the difficult topic of war crimes in Manchuria (Manchukuo). The novel won theYomiuri Prize, awarded by one of his harshest former critics, Kenzaburo Oe, winner of the Nobel Prize...