Haruki Murakami is a Japanese writer.
Let’s find out some interesting facts about him!
1. Haruki Murakami was born January 12, 1949 in Kyoto, Japan during the post–World War II baby boom and raised in Shukugawa (Nishinomiya), Ashiya and Kobe.
2. He is an only child.
3. His father was the son of a Buddhist priest, and his mother the daughter of an Osaka merchant. Both taught Japanese literature.
4. Since childhood, Murakami similarly to Kōbō Abe has been heavily influenced by Western culture, particularly Western as well as Russian music and literature.
5. He grew up reading a wide range of works by European and American writers, such as Franz Kafka, Gustave Flaubert, Charles Dickens, Kurt Vonnegut, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Richard Brautigan and Jack Kerouac.
6. These Western influences distinguish Murakami from the majority of other Japanese writers.
7. Murakami studied drama at Waseda University in Tokyo, where he met his wife, Yoko.
8. His first job was at a record store, much like Toru Watanabe, the narrator of Norwegian Wood. Shortly before finishing his studies, Murakami opened a coffee house and jazz bar, the Peter Cat, in Kokubunji, Tokyo, which he ran with his wife, from 1974 to 1981—again not unlike the protagonist in his later novel South of the Border, West of the Sun.
9. Murakami is a serious marathon runner and triathlon enthusiast, though he did not start running until he was 33 years old. On 23 June 1996, he completed his first ultramarathon, a 100 km race around Lake Saroma in Hokkaido, Japan.
10. He discusses his relationship with running in his 2008 memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.
11. Murakami began to write fiction when he was 29.
12. He was inspired to write his first novel, Hear the Wind Sing (1979), while watching a baseball game.
13. In 1978, Murakami was in Jingu Stadium watching a game between the Yakult Swallows and the Hiroshima Carp when Dave Hilton, an American, came to bat. According to an oft-repeated story, in the instant that Hilton hit a double, Murakami suddenly realized that he could write a novel.He went home and began writing that night. Murakami worked on Hear the Wind Sing for ten months in very brief stretches after working days at the bar.
14. He completed the novel and sent it to the only literary contest that would accept a work of that length, winning first prize.
15. Murakami’s initial success with Hear the Wind Sing encouraged him to continue writing. A year later, he published a sequel, Pinball, 1973. In 1982, he published A Wild Sheep Chase, a critical success. Hear the Wind Sing, Pinball, 1973, and A Wild Sheep Chase form the Trilogy of the Rat (a sequel, Dance, Dance, Dance, was written later but is not considered part of the series), centered on the same unnamed narrator and his friend, “the Rat.”
16. In 1985, Murakami wrote Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, a dream-like fantasy that took the magical elements of 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 young Japanese.
17. Murakami was a writing fellow at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. During this time he wrote South of the Border, West of the Sun and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.
18. Sputnik Sweetheart was first published in 1999, followed by Kafka on the Shore in 2002, with the English translation following in 2005. Kafka on the Shore won the World Fantasy Award for Novels in 2006.
19. A collection of the English versions of twenty-four short stories, titled Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, was published in August 2006. This collection includes both older works from the 1980s as well as some of Murakami’s more recent short stories, including all five that appear in Tōkyō Kitanshū.
20. In 2002, Murakami published the anthology Birthday Stories, which collects short stories on the theme of birthdays. The collection includes work by Russell Banks, Ethan Canin, Raymond Carver, David Foster Wallace, Denis Johnson, Claire Keegan, Andrea Lee, Daniel Lyons, Lynda Sexson, Paul Theroux, and William Trevor, as well as a story by Murakami himself.
21. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, containing tales about his experience as a marathon runner and a triathlete, was published in Japan in 2007, with English translations released in the U.K. and the U.S. in 2008. The title is a play on that of Raymond Carver’s short story collection, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.
22. Shinchosha Publishing published Murakami’s novel 1Q84 in Japan on May 29, 2009. 1Q84 is pronounced as ‘ichi kyū hachi yon’, the same as 1984, as 9 is also pronounced as ‘kyū’ in Japanese.
23. The book was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2011. However, after the anti-Japanese demonstrations, in China, in 2012, Murakami’s books were removed from sale there, along with those of other Japanese authors.
24. Murakami criticized the China-Japan political territorial dispute, characterizing the overwrought nationalistic response as “cheap liquor” which politicians were giving to the public.
25. In April 2013, he published his novel “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage”. It became an international best seller but received mixed reviews.
26. Most of Haruki Murakami’s works use first-person narrative in the tradition of the Japanese I Novel. He states that because family plays a significant role in traditional Japanese literature, any main character who is independent becomes a man who values freedom and solitude over intimacy.
27. When he’s in writing mode for a novel, he gets up at 4am and works for five to six hours. In the afternoon, he will run for 10km or swim for 1500m (or do both), then read a bit and listen to some music. He goes to bed at 9pm. “I keep to this routine every day without variation.”
28. Reportedly, during one year at university (he went to Waseda University in Tokyo and studied drama – he met his wife, Yoko there) Murakami watched more than 200 films.
29. He is a translator, but he doesn’t translate his own novels.
30. He writes without a plan.
31. His wife’s opinion is important. Yoko Takahashi provides valuable input for her husband. Not only is she his first reader, he revealed in his 2014 Guardian interview that she sometimes has to tell him when it’s time to stop rewriting.
32. Haruki Murakami is a fan of crime novels. During his high school days while living in Kobe, he would buy paperbacks from second hand book stores and learned to read English. The first book that he read in English was The Name is Archer, written by Ross Macdonald in 1955. Other writers he was interested in included Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.