Murakami Haruki is one of Japan's most famous fiction writers. After spending most of his twenties running a jazz bar he decided to write a novel. His novels generally feature men who are rather ordinary and unambitious. They are thrown into surreal situations that have an odd internal logic. His most popular novel is "Norwegian Wood." His darkest so far has been "The Wind Up Bird Chronicle." Many of his works have been translated into English.

Murakami Haruki was born in Kyoto in 1949, but spent his childhood in the city of Kobe. After graduating from Kobe High School, he attended university at Waseda, in Tokyo, and majored in Classical Drama. He reportedly decided to begin writing one day in 1974, while watching a baseball game. It was also in this year that he began running a coffee shop specializing in jazz, which he ran until 1981.

Murakami labored in relative obscurity until the publication of Norwegian Wood in 1987. This novel became quite big in Japan, and Murakami found himself famous. Already a seasoned traveler -- he lived in Greece and Italy while writing Norwegian Wood -- Murakami fled his fame and lived for a long while in the United States, including stints at Princeton and in Cambridge, MA.

Murakami's earliest works include the first two books of the "Rat Trilogy," Hear the Wind Sing (1979) and Pinball, 1973 (1980). Both books have a realistic, autobiographical style. Both were translated into English for the Kodansha English Library, a series of books intended for Japanese students of English. They are now out of print and very difficult to find, and Murakami has nixed the idea of retranslation.

A 1982 work, A Wild Sheep Chase, seems to pick up where these two novels left off. Dance, Dance, Dance (1988) seems to be a sequel to A Wild Sheep Chase, however, leaving one to wonder why the "Rat Trilogy" is so named. In any event, the latter two novels have been very well accepted both in Japan and abroad. Murakami is not popular among the literary establishment (including fellow authors as well as critics) in Japan, however, because he has spoken out against its conservatism.

Murakami's latest works include The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1994), arguably his finest novel to date. While Murakami has penned many essays in Japanese, most have not been translated. The lack of non-fiction in the English Murakami oeuvre has been rectified recently by the publication of Underground, a book based on Murakami's interviews of victims of the 1995 Aum Shinri Kyosarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway. Murakami also interviewed members of the cult for the book.

Murakami claims Carver, Cheever, and Fitzgerald among his favorite writers, and has translated books by Carver, Fitgerald, Paul Theroux, and Tim O'Brien into Japanese.



Limited Bibliography of Murakami Haruki

Please note that Murakami is a prolific writer of short stories and essays, and that many of these have not been translated, or at least not translated into English. This list includes as many works as possible. All works are novels unless otherwise noted.

Hear the Wind Sing
Pinball, 1973
A Wild Sheep Chase
A Slow Boat To China (Short Stories)
Dead Heat on the Merry-Go-Round (Short Stories)
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Norwegian Wood
Dance, Dance Dance
South of the Border, West of the Sun
The Elephant Vanishes (Short Stories)
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
The Sputnik Sweetheart
Underground (Non-fiction)
All God's Children Are Dancing(Short Stories)
Kafka on the Shore

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