you probably already know about my love for the writing of haruki murakami. his book the wind-up bird chronicle is probably my favorite book, and i've read it at least three times. it is at once a mystery, a love story, a coming-of-age story, and a fantasy. he creates characters that are magical and strange and unbelievably ordinary, but who are as fully developed as characters in a good television drama and who have stayed with me over the years like old friends.
his other books have been hits or miss for me, but there are common themes throughout. he likes to write about average guys who are loners or misfits without being socially awkward, they are just outside of japanese mainstream society. he loves disappearing women, this often forms the central theme of his novels. he is fascinated by only children, animals, jazz music and american culture. he writes about a japan that i have not often seen portrayed in other media: absent is the hurriedness, the business-is-war mentality, the thirst for pop culture. murakami's japan is more easy going, mixing elements of foreign culture unconsciously, yet with a sense of alienation at its core. i would like to study his fiction in a class with a professor. i want to read and write essays about it.
although none of his books have moved me as much as wind-up bird, other notable mentions are hard-boiled wonderland and the end of the world - which is his novel that is the most different from the rest - and south of the border, west of the sun - which is more formulaic but still lovely. his newest novel after dark came out in hardcover last week, and here is an excerpt (thanks emily). from a glance, it seems like vintage murakami, but intriguing. its events take place over the course of a night in a tokyo denny's. if anybody had read it i would love to know what you think, and i would love to borrow your copy this summer!