Haruki Murakami, summary

© Elena Seibert

Haruki Murakami (b. 1949) is probably the best known contemporary Japanese author in the West. In addition to 14 novels, he also has written short stories and non-fiction. On top of that, he has translated western literature into Japanese. His books sell in millions and have been translated into more than 50 languages. He has won numerous literary awards, although not Nobel, for which he has been an object of speculation for years.

In his writings Murakami, unlike any other Japanese writer, uses a lot of references to western culture, especially literature and music, both jazz and classical. He also has been compared to several western writers, for example to Paul Auster, D.J. Salinger, Raymond Chandler and Jorge Luis Borges. His popularity is huge both in Japan and in the West. It may partly be due to fact that he has something ”exotic” to offer to both parties.

Murakami is known for magical realism and surrealistic themes. His stories follow the logic or let’s say illogicality of a dream, which is very different from the reality we think we know. Actually many of his characters live in alternative realities or move between this side and the other side. He is a master in describing human emotions, but also has themes related to problems of society, especially in his later works.

Of all his works 13 have been translated into Finnish, the last 7 directly from the Japanese language. In the article Murakami 1/2 you can read about his life and it also contains a list of his works. The article Murakami 2/2 lists all the Finnish translations in chronological order and offers a short review of each. You can read these articles with the help of Google Translate. It seems to work all right, but please pay attention to the fact that the English titles of the books in the latter article are just translations from the Finnish titles. For correct titles, see article Murakami 1/1.

You might also like to read my review of the latest Murakami translation into Finnish Pimeän jälkeen (Afutā dāku, アフタ – ダ – ク, After Dark), which was published in October 2020 and translated from the Japanese by Antti Valkama.