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Decoding Haruki Murakami

Decoding Haruki Murakami

“In everything, no matter what it may be, uniformity is undesirable. Leaving something incomplete makes it interesting, and gives one the feeling that there is room for growth.”
Yoshida Kenko, circa 1330 (Essays in Idleness)

Murakami has become a famous name in the books of people looking for something different among the so-called top bestsellers, thanks to his peculiar blend of personal experience, otherworldly aspects, and Japanese history. Philip Gabriel and Alfred Birnbaum translated Murakami’s work, which he initially wrote in Japanese for himself. For a new reader who has not touched the works of Murakami, his writing will not make sense. He usually portrays daily routines in exquisite detail in his complicated compositions, reaching the apex of a repetitive narration with a layered description. His character appears to be aware of the fate that has been imposed upon them, but they continue to adjust to it. This is one of the many striking parallels between Murakami’s and Kafka’s writings. His literary approach, which combines Kafkaesque surrealism with a nonconformist style, appeals to a wide range of readers. In his writings, complicated stories with a melancholy background and general sentiments of the inadequacy of self-affirmation play a significant role.

Despite the peculiarity of many of the characters in his work, they seem sympathetic and likable, and he manages to combine existentialist gloom with almost childlike optimism and innocence. 

His stories are inquisitive and exploratory in nature. Murakami is a master of suspense, using words to create a deceptively simple screen behind which a mystery is hidden.

In his fiction, he’s written about phantom sheep, spirits meeting in the netherworld, and little people emerging from a painting, but beneath the evocative, often dreamlike imagery, his work is most often a study of missed connections, of the comedy and tragedy brought about by our failures to understand one another.

Murakami writes solely for himself and not to please the audience which is a strong reason why he has managed to conquer many voids in his book as his own. Even the elements that convey negative images are created in a way to reflect his thoughts and the consequences thought by him. Murakami has a way of not just getting under his characters’ skin, but also inside their thoughts, their psyche, what makes them who they are, why they think the way they do, how their flawed history molds them, and their future is  indeterminate yet in their frail manner of surviving they push on and leave an impression undeterred on the reader. His works also contain a segment of hypnosis which holds the power of repetition. Murakami uses this segment to build the layers in his story as evident in 1Q84. The more you read his works the more they seem to be a hypnotic illusion pulling you into the void unescapable even after closing the book.

So for a reader who has not yet touched the books holding the soul of Murakami, it would be an adventure of your life to give it a try.


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