Five Novels That Influenced Haruki Murakami's Writing
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His world is not quite like ours, yet there is always a hint of the familiar. Men are often wandering loners who may have mysteries to solve or pieces of puzzles to put together. His women often form the intricate pieces of these puzzles, or they may serve as the catalysts for greater mystery, adventure and love. But of course in the Murakami world there will also always be ghosts, parallel universes, sudden shifts in the fabric of time, magic sheep, unicorn skulls, mafia, wrestlers and, well, cats. Lots of cats. All manner of cats.
Over various interviews and readings, Murakami paints himself as a much maligned man in his home country. He has often stated that the literary elite does not favour him or his works. But the fans there are ravenous, especially since the publication of Norwegian Wood in 1987 (a book that really zoned in on the weirdly common themes of young love and suicide in Japanese culture, an explosive mix that propelled him to superstardom).
Part of his rough treatment by critics at home is due to Murakami’s obvious love of America and American literature, American jazz, American movies, American baseball, you name it, and how it spills over into his work. He has a real love for American culture which is surprising in one way as he is the child of not one but two Japanese literature teachers. In another way, it really isn’t all that surprising; he wanted to break away from Japan’s homegrown post-WWII works of serious fiction and get lost in a wild open world of freedom, which he found in American literature. It became a home away from home, where adventures and genres were split and created anew with endless music, parties, sex, reinvention and revolution.