Haruki Murakami: Thoughts….

January 13, 2013

Haruki Murakami…what can I say, I absolutely adore/ship his writing style. I’m not so much a fan of his surrealism than I am a fan of his beautiful prose and his ability to describe the human condition with such precision that when you meet his characters, you feel as if they were real people.  Music and books are also a huge theme in all his books and although I can’t really appreciate the names he throws out, I appreciate the fact that they’re there. Anyway, back to the characters, their feelings, thoughts, philosophies are described with such sensitivity and awareness of what runs through the mind that it’s like he’s expressing what you think about from time to time during the day but then never gave that thought much thought, thoughts that you had but forgot or feelings that you had but ignored….Murakami has documented them all down.  In this documentary I watched about him, he did express that he spends alot of time thinking deeply about various things and this just reflects in the detail he accords to developing his characters.

Another aspect which I love about his style is the simple, and nearly banal plot lines he adopts   for most of his books. ( Reminds me a bit of Albert Camus’ The Outsider.) I mean they really aren’t very creative- Love Triangle, Friend falling in love with the best friend, An extra marital affair…but the awesome, awesome thing is that these simple story lines  enable the reader to concentrate more on the protagonist and his character development. It is also this ability to transform something banal into something enjoyable that makes him a brilliant writer. The detached tone of his stories coupled with the very down to earth descriptions of his characters just leaves you hooked. It’s like life moving right before your eyes; Life itself being a cold, meaningless medium but at the same time ever so present and enjoyable.  But alongside these extremely normal people living very normal lives is the exact opposite- the strange and surreal. The appearance of the Sheepman in Dance Dance Dance,  Eri in eternal sleep watched over by The Man With No Face in After Dark, The existence of ‘The Other Side’ in Sputnik Sweetheart etc. etc. Because I unfortunately can’t really deal with things which are too out of this world, I have not attempted his full on ‘very out there’ books like Kafka on the Shore or Wild Sheep Chase where you actually have characters morphing into animals and what not.. The Sheepman was about my limit.  This surreal aspect of his books always leave readers guessing and uncertain of what is real and what isn’t. Questions that forever run through my head reading his books: A) Is this a metaphor? B)  A Symbol? C) A Dream?  D) Just plain random. More often than not, I think it’s option D. Just when I thought I was probably too blind or stupid to decipher the meaning of his symbols, Murakami says that he writes what he wants to write. He writes it not because he’s attached some very deep philosophical meaning to it but because well, it’s fun. The meaning we attach to it, is ever so often just our own creations. Here, i breathe a sigh of relief…I’m not that dense! But he balances the surrealism and reality so well that readers still turn the pages without giving up. The ethereal creatures also just enhance the detached and dream like quality of his prose.


Most often, he explores the ideas of desire, love, sex, loneliness and the meaning of life in his characters. I think his insights into these areas of the human psyche are fascinating and he just has such a talent for articulating his thoughts.

‘…..even if we are left completely changed people with only the outer layer of skin from before, we continue to play out our lives this way, in silence. We draw even nearer to our allotted span of time, bidding it farewell as it trails off behind. Repeating often adroitly, the endless deeds of the everyday. Leaving behind a feeling of immeasurable emptiness.’  — Sputnik Sweetheart

His characters usually explore meaning and purpose in life as well as deal with desire, love and lust. They also feel that they have to conform to what’s expected by society- failing in some ways succeeding in others and always dissatisfied. And this..well rings a bell with loads of people. Sometimes, he paints quite a depressing picture of human beings but Murakami however, usually ends his stories on a more positive note.  They’re almost always open ended but tinged with feelings of hope and new beginnings.

Norwegian Wood is one of Murakami’s most grounded and most well loved book but somehow…I didn’t enjoy it as much as some of his other ones. Although i more or less enjoyed  ALL his stories so far.

If I had to pick though, my favourites would be South of the Border and West of the Sun as well as After Dark.  It’s been awhile since I read After Dark and sadly I can’t really remember the plot. All I remember is that I absolutely loved it and it made me a Murakami fan. Yes, not Norwegian Wood…After Dark.

South of the Border and West of the Sun is what  I read recently and I really liked it because it just had such beautiful, poignant descriptions as well as a poignant storyline. To me, much more so than Norwegian Wood. Norwegian Wood was….exploring adolescence using a complicated love triangle.  South of the Border however, was about Marriage vs Passion, which I found much more intriguing.

‘ Inside that darkness, I saw rain falling on the sea. Rain softly falling on a vast sea, with no one there to see it. The rain strikes the surface of the sea yet even the fish don’t know it is raining. Until someone came and rested a hand lightly on my shoulder, my thoughts were of the sea.’— South of the Border, West of the Sun

In short ( slightly ironic?), Murakami’s books are worth a read. If not a couple, at least one. Maybe when you encounter his style of story telling you’ll find that special quality and fall in love…just like I did.

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3 Responses to “Haruki Murakami: Thoughts….”

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