Revisiting Mr. Murakami

It’s been a while.

I remember clear as day the moment when I first heard of Haruki Murakami’s existence. I was reading an interview with Ellen Page (who I quite fancied at the time), and during the interview she was asked to provide readers with five book recommendations. I can’t remember the others, but one of them was ‘The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle’ by a Japanese author named Haruki Murakami.

Little did I know this gentleman was something of a literary heavyweight, having achieved international fame with his fifth novel ‘Norwegian Wood’, released in 1987. So, I was only about 20 years late to the party celebrating literary brilliance.

Reading TWUBC was immediately a delight. From that opening, seemingly mundane scene involving pasta and a telephone call, I was hooked. It was like nothing I’d read before; the surrealist elements blended so skillfully with the everyday; the unexpected deep dive into Japanese history; the meandering melancholy permeating the page . . . A joy to read. The name Toru Okada would be firmly etched into the memory.

Of course, when an author makes such an impact on you, you’re not going to leave it at the one novel. You are, of course, going to delve into their back catalogue (to use a music reference – a tool utilised so often by Mr. M).

But while I enjoyed a Murakami phase, in recent years my attention has drifted elsewhere; like a restless protagonist in one of the his novels, I wandered in search of something else.

But here I am, a good thirteen years after I read a random interview with a Hollywood actor (something I rarely do), and stumbled upon an author whose work would become a permanent fixture on the bookshelves with which I’ve had many a love affair.

Tonight’s the night I revisit the master. From the small stack of unread Murakami books on my shelf, I’ve chosen ‘After Dark’ as the novel to bring me back into the world of the Japanese great.

One thing’s for sure: It’s gonna be memorable.

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