Haruki Murakami is not everyone’s cup of tea. My professor finds his novel good but a bit violent while I am head over heels with his writing style.
A few months back, someone on Facebook asked a question “If you get a chance to meet your favorite author, who would it be?” As you would have made out by my introduction, I wrote Haruki Murakami. One other boy wrote the same but I don’t know why but I got a reply from a stranger calling Murakami “mind-bender”. Anyway, the point is that Murakami’s works come under the genre of magical realism, the genre not everyone likes to delve in.
But he is a popular author. A best-selling one in fact! I have seen a lot of people on platforms like Quora asking the question, “If I want to try Haruki Murakami, which books should I start with?”
There is no perfect answer to the question but there are definitely some books you must try if you want to explore Haruki Murakami.
Kafka On The Shore
Published in 2002, the novel comes on the top. The story revolves around a boy named Kafka who runs away from his father to escape an Oedipal curse and embark on a journey to find his mother and sister. In this novel, two tales are being narrated. The odd chapters narrate the story of Kafka while the even chapters narrate the story of Nakata, a man who is suffering from war afflictions.
This novel come under the genre of Post-Modernism and is a good option for people who have read works like “If On A Winter’s Night, A Traveller”. The novel got mixed reviews from the reader and the reason is pretty obvious. Murakami books are not for all the readers but for the few who loves to delve into the world of metaphysics and who would mind if there’s beginning, middle or end to the story. When asked about the meaning of the novel, Murakami once explained,
“Kafka on the Shore contains several riddles, but there aren’t any solutions provided. Instead, several of these riddles combine, and through their interaction the possibility of a solution takes shape. And the form this solution takes will be different for each reader. To put it another way, the riddles function as part of the solution. It’s hard to explain, but that’s the kind of novel I set out to write”.
Just like any Murakami’s work, Cats have an important place in the book. How? For this, you will have to grab a copy.
Published in 1987, Norwegian Wood is a love story. But mind you, it’s not an ordinary tale. The novel revolves around three characters-Toru Watanabe, Naoko, and Midori. The novel is also a political commentary on the students’ movement in Japan. From the way it has been shown in the novel, it seems that Murakami found the movement hypocritical.
If you want to explore Japan spatially, this book is a great option. Murakami’s description of Japan seems to be coming from a person who has walked the nook and corner of the country.
Naoko goes into depression after her boyfriend’s suicide, also Toru’s best friend. The root of her depression lies deep in the past, something which is later revealed in the novel. Both Naoko and Midori become love interests for Toru as he gets to know each woman over the course of the novel. When the time comes, he has to make a choice and choose one of them. Whom does he choose?
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Published between 1994 and 1995, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a story of a man named Toru Okada who lives with his wife Kumiko. They both are happy with each other and the bubble they have created for each other. But things take a different turn when their Cat disappears.
There are things that only Toru Okada notices. One being the sound of the wind-up bird whom no one else hears. Its sound is quite significant to the novel.
Apart from the parts which delve into Toru quest for his wife, there is one particular section that talks about the Japanese occupation of Manchukuo. Through this section, Murakami tries to show the problem officials have as they have no one to “listen” to the grim and gory tales.
In this novel, everyone is trying to tell a story. Somehow, Okada ends up being everyone’s desired listener. If you love exploring “time”, this novel will be an interesting read for you.
A bit more information will ruin the fun, so, grab the book and read it!
In all the three novels mentioned above, it is the common man who is the protagonist and this is what makes the plots much more interesting.