Haruki Murakami is a contemporary Japanese writer. His books and stories have been best-sellers in Japan as well as internationally, with his work being translated into 50 languages and selling millions of copies outside his native country.
“We live in a pretty apathetic age, yet we’re surrounded by an enormous amount of information about other people. If you feel like it, you can easily gather that information about them. Having said that, we still hardly know anything about people.”
I’ve been a little late in discovering the great Haruki Murakami. Despite this lack of timeliness, I have become a big fan of his; devouring book after book from his back catalogue. During the past year, I have read a ton of his works, and I am loving every single title.
Yesterday, I finished The Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
And when I put down my Kindle (as it was downloading the next Murakami title,) I wondered what it is about this genius that makes his book so satisfying to me. Somehow, he creates perfection, but how?
He is a master with words, creating music with every sentence, he paints the most vivid images, you can feel everything he describes, you lose yourself in the story, you walk with him, eat with him, sleep, laugh, cry, yell, despair and triumph with him, he does what every author aspire to do: He creates a livable world from cover to cover.
“In Haida’s brain there must have been a kind of high-speed circuit built to match the pace of his thoughts, requiring him to occasionally engage his gears, to let his mind race for fixed periods of time. If he didn’t—if he kept on running in low gear to keep pace with Tsukuru’s reduced speed—Haida’s mental infrastructure would overheat and start to malfunction. Or at least, Tsukuru got that impression.”
What astounds me is that he is a bestseller like the
less good authors, the pop market authors, who spit out one title after the other to a jubilant audience who doesn’t care too much about titles being well-written/well-plotted/well-done/well … good. So how can it be that this extremely talented author, a master, can enter the bestseller world without compromising the quality of his writing?
He isn’t really a fantasy author, the fantasy world being a world of a huge audience and some extremely talented bestselling authors (and some less good ones.) No, he is on the broad and very diverse fiction market, and he is a bestseller.
One of a kind, indeed. He has that special literary x-factor, which I am still trying to pinpoint.
Yes, he always write in the same settings, he always writes about jazz, about classical music, about cooking, whiskey, loneliness, women, about Japan (obviously,) which make some people call him a hack. However, a hack often doesn’t have much to say, and Murakami always has a lot to say; between the lines, underneath the sentences, between the chapters, hiding cover to cover, there’s a lot being said. His stories are lined with emotion, themes, philosophy and truth. They are deep and insightful and they always change you and your life a little.
This is the highest praise I can ever give an author. That he or she changes your life with their work. It might just be a story about a man doing or not doing something in his life, overcoming some obstacles and succeeding or failing, and then it goes on, but the story changes you a bit as you read it.
Haruki Murakami does something with his writing. With every word, he sends out a message to his readers, unconsciously, underneath it all, he tells something about being a human being in this world. And how precious it is. And how rare. In an age of disconnection, loneliness, boundaries and estrangement, here comes this author writing about how it feels to be human. He is creating a bond, an understanding, making life more bearable even when writing tragedy.
“Because I have no sense of self. I have no personality, no brilliant color. I have nothing to offer. That’s always been my problem. I feel like an empty vessel. I have a shape, I guess, as a container, but there’s nothing inside. I just can’t see myself as the right person for her. I think that the more time passes, and the more she knows about me, the more disappointed Sara will be, and the more she’ll choose to distance herself from me.”
I’m a fan, of course, there should be no doubt about this by now. Not everyone likes Murakami. Many veer back when an author becomes too popular. There’s strange pride in hating an author everyone likes, and pride in loving an author everyone hates. I’ll get back to that another day. Again, this thing about being a talented bestseller …
“Our lives are like a complex musical score. Filled with all sorts of cryptic writing, sixteenth and thirty-second notes and other strange signs. It’s next to impossible to correctly interpret these, and even if you could, and could then transpose them into the correct sounds, there’s no guarantee that people would correctly understand, or appreciate, the meaning therein. No guarantee it would make people happy. Why must the workings of people’s lives be so convoluted?”
No matter how many words I add to this, I’ll never be able to describe my love for Murakami’s work. For perfection. My words won’t be able to encompass what it is he does with his writing. I know some out there will understand exactly what I mean, and some will disagree. Murakami is in my perfection category. Another perfectly whole and wonderful perfection bubble.
Oh, please don’t burst it.
(Image and top quote from Wikipedia. All other quotes are from The Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage)