Madness with Murakami: Books by Haruki Murakami

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in.”These lines from Haruki Murakami’s ‘Kafka on the Shore’ are encouraging, and so perfect for the time that we are living in today. ‘Madness with Murakami’, as I call it, is a project which I took up after I read this book. It was my first read from the books by Haruki Murakami. From then on I kept reading his works at a stretch during the ’stay at home’ period of the pandemic, calling the activity, ‘Madness with Murakami’. I find works of this brilliant Japanese author, eccentric, magical and they take me to a different world or space.

Haruki Murakami Bingo

When one sits to read books by Haruki Murakami, she can almost sit with a Haruki Murakami Bingo card and start ticking off the elements as and when found in the novel. Yet every story is different and full of new surprises. In fact all his book covers have similar style but are different and of course are glamorously pristine. Now, from the Haruki Murakami Bingo; one finds cats (even unicorns at times), detailed cooking of mouth watering dishes, whiskey (Cutty Sark), coffee, classy music ranging from Schubert to Beatles, female ear, an elusive mystery woman, a villainous man with bad teeth and many more. American Literature and Japanese war history are referred to often.

Magical Realism in the Books by Haruki Murakami

One finds lots of magic and escaping into a parallel world. The portal gate to the other world may be hidden inside a dry well or a secret staircase at a turnout on the highway or even a round white stone. Absurd ideas like a ghost of a living, raining fish and leeches from the sky and a sheeply sheep man, make books by Haruki Murakami so imperfectly perfect. Readers who love magical realism, they adore Haruki Murakami. He is one of the most popular men in Japan and in world literature.

Books by Haruki Murakami to Start With

Books by Haruki Murakami are dramatic and thematic. One may not have to be really a fan of magical realism to understand his works. His writing is bold, confident and extra ordinary. Even while talking of the parallel world, he speaks of sensitive issues like suicides, mental health, homo sexuality, complex sex and confusions and complications of relationships. I definitely would recommend starting with ‘Norwegian Wood’ (1987). This is a book which changed his life as an author. This is a surreal creation. There’s no magical realism in this work. It is a deep story of broken people, encountering death/suicides of their loved ones, coming together to finally form a sweet force of life.

Experience the ‘Strange’ in the Books by Haruki Murakami

For experiencing and enjoying absolute strangeness read ‘The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle’ (1997, English) and ‘Kafka on the Shore’ (2002). Haruki Murakami is highly influenced by the eminent author Franz Kafka. In both the stories we keep jumping to and fro consciousness and sub consciousness. The readers enter some kind of a trance while reading these 2 novels. Another of my favourites amongst the books by Haruki Murakami is ‘1Q84’ (2009). The mastery of building up the suspense and mystery in a 600 pages-novel is unparalleled.

Who is Haruki Murakami?

To know and understand who Haruki Murakami is one should read ‘What I Talk about When I Talk about Running’ (2007). It is a slim book but speaking volumes about the author. We get to know of Haruki Murakami’s life, his influences and his philosophies including that of meditative running. What led him to become an author is also an intriguing find. Before writing he owned a Jazz Bar named, ‘Peter Cat’, in Japan. The book also speaks of his days in USA. Haruki Murakami was born on 12th January, 1949 and was shadowed by post World War II influence. The details of the impact of war on Japan are well captured in most of his works. Readers can sniff his strong affinity towards classy music and taste for good literature in all his works. Books by Haruki Murakami are a class apart and are elaborately detailed. I can’t surely say if ‘the devil is in the details’ or if the details are heavenly, but they definitely are often out of the world making readers feel like floating in a different unknown space.
Here’s wishing the literary genius a very happy 73rd birthday.
Dipannita Bhattacherya

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