Haruki Murakami (Kanji: 村上 春樹; 12 January 1949 – ?) is a Japanese writer and translator. Murakami’s fiction, often criticized by Japan’s literary establishment, is humorous and surreal, and at the same time focusses on themes of alienation and loneliness. Through his work, he is able to capture the spiritual emptiness of his generation and explore the negative effects of Japan’s work-dominated mentality. His writing criticizes the decline in human values and a loss of connection among people in Japan’s society. His works of fiction and non-fiction have garnered him critical acclaim and numerous awards, though he has declined some awards due to principle and been openly critical of Israel’s political policies after receiving the Jerusalem Prize, a biennial literary award given to writers whose work has dealt with themes of human freedom, society, politics, and government.
Murakami wrote his first fiction when he was 29. He said he was inspired to write his first novel, 1979′s Hear the Wind Sing, while watching a baseball game. 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 he could write a novel. He went home and began writing that night. Murakami worked on it for several months in very brief stretches after working days at the bar. He completed a novel and sent it to the only literary contest that would accept a work of that length, and won first prize.
– Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World (1985): A dream-like fantasy set against a vaguely scientific backdrop. This book takes the magical elements of Murakami’s works to a new extreme.
– Norwegian Wood (1987): A nostalgic story of loss and sexuality that gained him major national recognition and made Murakami a literary superstar in Japan. The book was printed in two separate volumes, sold together, so that the number of books sold actually doubled, creating the million-copy bestseller hype. One book had a green cover, the other one red.
– The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1994-1995): A novel that fuses realistic and fantastic tendencies, and contains elements of physical violence. It is also more socially conscious than his previous work, dealing in part with the difficult topic of war crimes in Manchukuo (Northeast China). The novel won the Yomiuri Prize, awarded by one of his harshest former critics, Kenzaburo Oe, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1994.
– Underground (1995): His first work of non-fiction which interviews victims of the Aum Shinrikyo gas attack in the Tokyo Subway System.
– after the quake (1996): A collection of short stories about the Kobe earthquake in Japan.
– Kafka on the Shore (2002): A novel with two distinct but interrelated plots; the odd chapters follow a 15-year-old named Kafka; the even chapters follow an older man named Nakata. The two collide throughout the novel, often on a metaphysical plane rather than in reality. Recipient of the Franz Kafka prize from the Czech Republic and the World Fantasy Award For Novels.
– 1Q84 (2009): A three-part story that takes place in 1984, the first between April and June, the second between July and September, the third between Octobre and December. Two storylines alternate by chapter and detail many bizarre occunces. Published in three volumes in Japan and gained #2 book of the year on Amazon.
“Each of us possesses a tangible living soul. The system has no such thing. We must not allow the system to exploit us.” – Haruki Murakami