In this episode, we’re talking about one of the most important voices in modern Japanese literature, Haruki Murakami.
- His biography
- Why so many people have such strong feelings about his writing
- And his short story “TV People”
We’ll end with what I like best about this much loved (and much hated) author.
- “TV People” (translated by Alfred Birnbaum)
- Found in The Elephant Vanishes
More by Haruki Murakami:
- After Dark
- After the Quake (short stories)
- Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman: Stories
- Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
- Dance Dance Dance
- The Elephant Vanishes
- First-Person Singular
- Hard-Boiled Wonderland at the End of the World
- Kafka on the Shore
- Killing Commendatore (read more about Killing Commendatore)
- Men without Women: Stories
- Norwegian Wood
- South of the Border, West of the Sun
- The Strange Library
- Sputnik Sweetheart
- Trilogy of the Rat (series)
- Wind/Pinball: Two Novels
- The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
- Featured in The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories
- Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa
- Murakami T: The T-Shirts I Love
- Novelist as a Vocation
- Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the American Psyche
- What I Talk about When I Talk about Running
The New Yorker’s complete list of Murakami stories available to read on their website. Free, but with a view limit.
This episode also mentions:
- Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (translated by Geoffrey Trousselott)
- Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami (translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd)
- Note that the version of Breasts and Eggs published in English is dramatically expanded from the version that won the Akutagawa, the version mentioned in this episode.
- No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai (translated by Donald Keene)
- The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories (edited by Jay Rubin)
- The Silent Cry by Kenzaburo Oe (translated by John Bester)
- Who We’re Reading When We’re Reading Murakami by David Karashima
Find Out More
Tokyo Weekender’s “List of 7: The Best Haruki Murakami Novels”, 2023. Compiled by Matthew Hernon.
Gitte Marianne Hansen on “How to Read Haruki Murakami the Japanese Way”, 2023. Via The Conversation.
Kaori Shoji explains why Murakami is still worth reading. Via the Japanese Subculture Research Center, 2022.
Murakami on “The Moment [He] Became a Novelist”, 2015. Via LitHub. Translated by Ted Goossen.
Deep Dive Japan Podcast takes up “Haruki Murakami’s New Novel”, 2023. Podcast episode + transcript. 33 minutes. Morales serves as the Murakami expert, and you can find more of his work at howtojapanese.com.
Haruki Murakami and Mieko Kawakami discuss Murakami’s female characters, 2017—translated into English in 2020. Via LitHub. Translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd.
Other RJL Episodes of Interest:
- Episode 18: Cats in Japanese Literature. Takes up Murakami’s love of cats.
- Episode 19: Japanese Magical Realism. Covers Murakami’s use of magical realism in his writing.
- Episode 20: Kobo Abe and the Akutagawa Prize. Briefly discusses Oe’s dislike of Murakami and Banana Yoshimoto, as well as Murakami’s failure to win Japan’s most coveted literary award. Murakami is also sometimes compared to Abe because both authors’ styles pull from so many non-Japanese sources.
- Episode 21: Sexlessness in Japanese Fiction. Discusses Mieko Kawakami’s friendship with Murakami.
- Episode 24: SF! Japanese Science Fiction. Discusses Murakami’s role in Japanese SF.
Buruma, Ian. “Becoming Japanese” in The New Yorker, 1996. (free, article limit)
Hutchinson, Rachel and Leith Morton. “Introduction” in Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese Literature, ed. Rachael Hutchinson and Leith Morton, 2016.
Kelts, Roland. “The Harukists, Disappointed” in The New Yorker, 2012. (free, article limit)
Harding, John Wesley. “Haruki Murakami” (Interview) at Bombsite, 1994. (free via Web Archive)
Morales, Daniel, Patrick St. Michel, and Shaun McKenna. “Haruki Murakami’s New Novel. Plus, Allegations Resurgence in J-Pop” at Deep Dive: Looking Beneath the Surface of Japan (podcast episode transcript), 2023. (free)
Murakami Haruki. “TV People” (translated by Alfred Birnbaum) in The Elephant Vanishes. Vintage, 1993.
Oe Kenzaburo. “Japan’s Dual Identity: A Writer’s Dilemma” in World Literature Today, 1988.
Rubin, Jay. Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words. Random House, 2002.
Snider, Grant. “Murakami Bingo” in The New York Times, 2014. (free, article limit)