I was twenty-one at the time, about to turn twenty-two. No prospect of graduating soon, and yet no reason to quit school. Caught in the most curiously depressing circumstances. For months I’d been stuck, unable to take one step in any new direction. The world kept moving on; I alone was at a standstill. In the autumn, everything took a desolate cast, the colors swiftly fading before my eyes. The sunlight, the smell of the grass, the faintest patter of rain, everything got on my nerves.
How many times did I dream of catching a train at night?
—  Haruki Murakami, A Wild Sheep Chase
We lived together under one roof, but my parents and sister were like strangers to me, and I had no idea what they wanted from life. And the same held true for them - they didn’t have any idea what kind of person I was or what I aspired to. Not that I knew what I wanted in life - I didn’t. I love reading novels to distraction, but didn’t write well enough to be a novelist; being an editor or a critic was out, too, since my personal tastes ran to extremes. Novels should be for pure personal enjoyment, I decided, not part of your work or study. That’s why I didn’t study literature, but history. I didn’t have any special interest in history, but once I began studying it I found it an engrossing subject. I didn’t plan to go to grad school and devote my life to history or anything, though my adviser did suggest that. I enjoyed reading and thinking, but I was hardly the academic type. As Pushkin put it: He had no itch to dig for glories / Deep in the dirt that time has laid. All of which didn’t mean I was about to find a job in a normal company, claw my way through the cut-throat competition, and advance step by step up the slippery slopes of the capitalist pyramid.
So by a process of elimination, I ended up a teacher. The school is only a few stations away by train. (…)I hadn’t planned on being a teacher, but after I actually became one I discovered a deeper respect and affection for the profession than I ever imagined I’d have. More accurately, really, I should say that I happened to discover myself.
I’d stand at the front of the classroom, teaching my primary-school charges basic facts about language, life, the world, and I’d find that at the same time I was teaching myself these basic facts all over again - filtered through the eyes and minds of these children. Done the right way, this was a refreshing experience. Profound, even. I got along well with my pupils, their mothers, and my fellow teachers.
Still the basic questions tugged at me: Who am I? What am I searching for? Where am I going?
—  Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

We’ve asked you guys about your fist Murakami book, your favorite Murakami book and a couple of other things.

But has anything by Haruki Murakami ever disappointed you? Is there a novel you don’t like as much as his other works or even openly dislike? Some short stories you couldn’t get into?

For us, we’re both not too big on Norwegian Wood for several reasons like not being able to relate to the characters. Something I (Mikey) personally don’t like about it is how it’s often recommended as a starter for people who haven’t read any Murakami yet - because it simply isn’t a good example and differs too much from his other works. I also found it difficult to get into some of the stories of after the quake.

What about you guys? Time to hear some follower opinions again, shoot!

I don’t know if this is “realistic” or “unrealistic,” but for me, my characters are more real than real people. In those six or seven months that I’m writing, those people are inside me. It’s a kind of cosmos. (…) Please think about it this way: I have a twin brother. And when I was two years old, one of us—the other one—was kidnapped. He was brought to a faraway place and we haven’t seen each other since. I think my protagonist is him. A part of myself, but not me, and we haven’t seen each other for a long time. It’s a kind of alternative form of myself. In terms of DNA, we are the same, but our environment has been different. So our way of thinking would be different. Every time I write a book I put my feet in different shoes. Because sometimes I am tired of being myself. This way I can escape. It’s a fantasy.
—  Haruki Murakami

Some knickknacks:

  • New Murakami book in the Netherlands: Kangoeroecorrespondentie (named after the short story “The Kangaroo Communiqué”) contains all the missing short stories that haven’t been released in Dutch so far - at least the stories that have been translated to English before. We all know there’s a whole lot of untranslated stories only available to those who understand Japanese. Anyways, nice information for all the Dutch cats. Thanks for letting us know, Jochem.
  • We’ve been on Facebook for a couple of weeks now. Come over and give us a like if you are in the mood: Murakamistuff on Facebook.

Also, little survey: 

Which Murakami novel would you like to see turned into a movie?

Figured we should start up some poll action kind of thing once again since it’s been a while. It’s a pity Tumblr’s comment function doesn’t allow decent interaction with you guys but what is everyone’s favorite short story in The Elephant Vanishes, and why?

What is your favorite story in Haruki Murakami’s compilation The Elephant Vanishes?

  • The Wind-up Bird And Tuesday’s Women
  • The Second Bakery Attack 
  • The Kangaroo Communique 
  • On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning  
  • Sleep  
  • The Fall of the Roman Empire, The 1881 Indian Uprising, Hitler’s Invasion of Poland, And The Realm of Raging Winds  
  • Lederhosen
  • Barn Burning 
  • The Little Green Monster
  • A Family Affair
  • A Window
  • TV People
  • A Slow Boat to China
  • The Dancing Dwarf
  • The Last Lawn of the Afternoon
  • The Silence
  • The Elephant Vanishes
A request for Norwegian followers.

After we posted a photo of a copy of Kafka on the Shore “on the shore” one of our followers pointed out that it would be fun to see a copy of Norwegian Wood in a Norwegian wood.

Since neither of us lives in Norway, we’re officially requesting our followers who do to undertake this task. Grab your copy, go for a hike and snap some pictures. If someone’s actually awesome enough to do this, please submit your photo via email, Facebook or Tumblr’s submission feature (which is, I’m afraid, pretty unstable at times, though).

- mi

/edit: First submissions are here, awesome!! (1) (2)

Keep it coming, guys!

Things are a little quiet these days. There are no news about Haruki Murakami, his new novel or other projects. It’s only fifteen days until release of Tazaki Tsukuru in Japan and we are still eagerly awaiting information regarding the plot or even the official book cover design.

Let’s recap what we already know:

  • It’s going to have around the same amount of pages as Sputnik Sweetheart, a little more
  • Japanese release date: April 12th
  • According to Murakami it’s “different” than 1Q84

And that’s already about it.

In the time until there is more information about Murakami’s novel available or it hits stores we will of course continue to provide you with your daily dose of Haruki. I am thinking about revising our index page and there will be a new map for our Murakami Places project available next month: After Dark. So stay tuned and check back regularly as to not miss new things.

Things you can do include submitting your artworks or favorite quotes and telling us that we either do a good job or that we suck (if that’s the case please explain why). Feel free to ask regular question as well, as long as they are relevant for everyone. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter in case you’re not a tumblr regular.

murakamistuff: index

Like previously announced, here is a (I think) useful novelty to this blog: A list of the content posted on murakamistuff, divided into various categories. I went through all the old postings and re-tagged them to make it easier for you to find certain things.

Let’s say you want to see postings about 1Q84. Simply come to this page and click the link below - you’ll get all the 1Q84 related postings, quotes, artworks etc. Pretty easy, right? The system is not exactly precise yet but there’ll be further improvements in the future to make it clearer. Got any questions about this, just go ahead and ask.

There’s a link on our blog so you’ll be able to find this page at any time.

Quotes from Murakami books, unsorted: Click.

Quotes about Murakami: Click.

Interviews and statements etc by and about Haruki Murakami: Click.

Artworks, unsorted: Click.

News: Click.

Videos: Click.

Book covers in different countries: Click.

Pictures/photos/drawings/illustrations of the man himself: Click.

Short Stories and essays by Murakami: Click.

Music from Murakami books: Click.

On Murakami’s jazz bar Peter-cat: Click.

Things about Haruki Murakami you probably did not know: Click.

Also, cats: Click.

Content sorted by books:
Hear the Wind Sing
Pinball, 1973
A Wild Sheep Chase
Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Norwegian Wood
Dance Dance Dance
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
South of the Border, West of the Sun
Sputnik Sweetheart
Kafka on the Shore
After Dark

The Elephant Vanishes
after the quake
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running