Haruki Murakami is a major reason for many of our students wanting to learn Japanese. His novels like Norwegian Wood, Kafka on The Shore and 1Q84 enjoy a legendary status in the minds of many readers. If you are one of Murakami’s legions of fans- we recommend these not too well known works (may be because they are not as widely translated) for you to pick up and continue your journey into the wild dreamy world of the Japanese Master.
Hear The Wind Sing
Murakami’s debut novel, written first in English and then translated by him into Japanese in order to come up with his own unique “voice”. Written while idling away at his Jazz bar, Murakami refused to have these novels published in translation for a long time. This short novel about a 21 year old zoology student on vacation, is a perfect representation of all that would make Murakami famous for- his unique humor, the mix of the surreal and the real, a confused hero who seems to float just a few inches over the ground…Instantly likeable and extremely easy to read, this short philosophical novel is a must read for every Murakami aficionado.
A Perfect Day for Kangaroos
This short story collection, with it’s undeniable tribute to Murakami’s hero-Salinger, features almost 27 works collected from various magazines that Murakami had published his works in and is a pretty rare find in translation. Some of the stories though have made their way into short story collections like the Elephant Vanishes and Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman. The last story in the collection was rewritten for children by Murakami as the Strange Library- a quintessential Murakami tale that involves a hero obsessed with his shoes, trapped in a malicious library. Our favorite in the collection is one of a symbolic Sea Lion inviting the author to a symbolic Sea Lion festival and requesting for donations in the most polite way possible!
Many professors recommend that their students try their hand at reading this beautiful collection of short essays by Haruki Murakami- and for good reason. While it is predominantly available only in Japanese, the book contains short essays by Murakami (around 2-3 pages each) on real life themes. The equivalent of listening to a daily radio bulletin (hence the title) from Japan’s most famous novelist, the vocabulary is pretty simple and any intermediate student of Japanese should be able to navigate these essays with minimum fuss. A definite must read for anyone who loves the language!
What on earth is there in Laos?
Murakami, as his fans know well, is also a great traveler. This collection of his travel essays published in 2015 takes the reader to many exotic locations- from Greece to Tuscany and of course, Laos, Murakami writes about his impressions and the memories that each place kindles in his own unique style. If you are thinking of these essays as just excerpts from a travel blog- think again. The Murakami spirit is all pervasive and a mix of poetry, humor and philosophy that charm you from the very first line are omnipresent in this short but beautiful collection. As Murakami says about the title, in his after word, there is always something unexpected in a place, even Laos, that stays with you when you visit it or revisit it. And that’s true of his works as well.
Not all of these works are availble widely in translation. In case you would like to start reading Japanese literature in Japanese, you can always enroll yourself for an online Japanese Course at Babel School of Languages 🙂 Just click on the contact us tab!