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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What's Your Favorite Haruki Murakami Novel?

Posted by on Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 3:26 PM


Last night, Elliott Bay Book Company hosted a midnight sale for the new Haruki Murakami novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. They had a costume party and snacks and a trivia contest and they raffled off almost a hundred autographed copies of the new novel for customers who pre-ordered the book. They also gave away masks of Murakami's face with the eyes cut out for people to wear. I spent a good portion of the night walking around the bookstore, finding new eyes for Murakami. (I've been told that one Elliott Bay staffer now owns a bag full of Murakami eyes, which is certainly not creepy at all.)

Seeing over a hundred people come out to celebrate the publication date of a new book that was not about a young British wizard was a whole lot of fun, and it was a reminder that Haruki Murakami can claim a global celebrity that no other novelist can approach. He's got to be one of the most popular novelists alive today. And so I'm wondering: Among you five Slog readers that still read fiction, what's your favorite Murakami novel? I'm sticking to novels only, much as I love Underground and some of his short stories, because it seems unfair to pit one form against another. And I'm leaving his first two novels off the list because they have yet to be widely released in America (though I hear that may be about to change.) You can complain about my decision-making process in the comments.


Comments (19) RSS

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I must be the only person in the world who doesn't like Murakami's books. I'm not drawn to the style, the stories, or anything else. I realize that the style may be attributable to the translator, but I just can't get into any of it.
Posted by zee on August 12, 2014 at 3:42 PM · Report this
@1 you are not the only one, I've tried, and I just can't get into them, I find the rhythm of the text jarring
Posted by lone locust on August 12, 2014 at 3:43 PM · Report this
sikandro 4
It's still gotta be Wind-Up Bird. I wish that someone had been monitoring my Murakami intake and convinced me not to read that and Kafka first. I hate starting with a writer's best novels and then wishing that all the others were as good. (Though I like his B-reel novels, too.)

I would love if the first two books were put out in English. I have Pinball 1973 in Thai, but my Thai is too rusty to make it much fun.
Posted by sikandro on August 12, 2014 at 3:56 PM · Report this
pfffter 5
Kafka on the Shore! SOOOO DAMN GOOD
Posted by pfffter on August 12, 2014 at 3:59 PM · Report this
Gurldoggie 6
I've read most of his novels, and I like them fine, but I never placed him on my personal list of "favorite writers." It's always surprised me that he is as popular as he is. The only one of his books that I would call arguably great is "Wind Up Bird Chronicle," though I think Hard Boiled Wonderland and Kafka also have some staying power. Admittedly I haven't read any of the last three on this list, so maybe I'm missing something wonderful?
Posted by Gurldoggie on August 12, 2014 at 4:02 PM · Report this
sikandro 8
@7. The new one is quite a bit shorter than 1Q84, if that's any encouragement. It clocks in under 400.
Posted by sikandro on August 12, 2014 at 4:24 PM · Report this
It is Wind Up Bird ,isn't it.

I felt like if I clicked that choice I'd be doing what everyone else had done. Like I should really acknowledge that a deeper cut is the best (even if I'm the only one smart enough to know know,k the "I liked their first album better" syndrome.)

But really it seems clear. Any strong disagrements ? Someone wanna send me back to school on this one?
Posted by jnonymous on August 12, 2014 at 8:28 PM · Report this
chaseacross 10
A more important question: who is holding the mask in this picture?
Posted by chaseacross on August 12, 2014 at 9:13 PM · Report this
Anti-m 11
Wind Up Bird, but HBWATEOTW, Kafka, and even the Sheep Chase duo are all runners up.

I found both After Dark and 10Q84 tremendously unsatisfying.

Seconding the love for his playlists... I'd also like to add love for the foodstuffs. I'd buy a Murakami cookbook!
Posted by Anti-m on August 12, 2014 at 10:40 PM · Report this

I sort of suspect that Murakami is one of those authors where for a lot of readers, the first book they read is the one they like the most. I'd put Tom Robbins in this bin, too.
Posted by robotslave on August 13, 2014 at 12:00 AM · Report this
@1, @2, You are not alone. Sigh. I've tried. But just, no.
Posted by chris in dk on August 13, 2014 at 2:19 AM · Report this
Oh yeah, pretty sure that would be Wind Up Bird.
Posted by Fafnir on August 13, 2014 at 4:28 AM · Report this
bleedingheartlibertarian 15
Windup, but Hard Boiled is a *very* close second for me (possibly because it was the first one I read.)
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on August 13, 2014 at 6:04 AM · Report this
bracted pedicularis 16
I hated Kafka on the Shore with a passion. So disappointed. Lots of friends talked this book up but I found it gross and disturbing (you know what I'm talking about) without any brilliant prose to redeem itself.

1Q84 bored me out of my mind. Finished half of it then put it down for good.

One of the most beloved authors? Or one of the most over-rated?
Posted by bracted pedicularis on August 13, 2014 at 6:38 AM · Report this
The Third Rail 17
I've read them all, but Wild Sheep Chase always sticks out for me. Maybe just because it was the first one I read...
Posted by The Third Rail on August 13, 2014 at 8:09 AM · Report this
Fried Worms 18
Came here for the mutual "Am I the only one who can't stand Murakami?" support. Thanks everyone! I no longer feel alone!

(Seriously, I thought I was alone.) I read 2 of his books and tried a third. Hate, hate, hate. So deeply puzzled by his popularity, esp. by smart people I respect and like.
Posted by Fried Worms on August 13, 2014 at 9:18 AM · Report this
@11, I agree about After Dark. It was the first of his that I read and I felt simply hmmmm.
Posted by jnonymous on August 13, 2014 at 10:21 AM · Report this
I find I can't read fiction anymore that is NOT written by Murakami. Especially modern American fiction as it's SO overwritten, tries SO hard, and the writing is so frantic and busy, like a Jonathan Franzen or David Foster Wallace. Exhausting. Murakami is such a refreshing alternative with it's sparseness and emotional depth.

@18 Don't worry, I'm just as deeply puzzled but instead by people who don't find his writing amazing. Makes me question whether they actually have a soul in there. Like coming across a person who says "they don't listen to music" or something. Are you, like, a cyborg??
Posted by Confluence on August 15, 2014 at 3:03 AM · Report this
biffp 21
That is overwhelming. Just read Sputnik Sweetheart to make sure it wasn't better than Windup Bird, and it's not even close. So one note. It started well, but I find it hard to believe that could be someone's favorite.
Posted by biffp on September 25, 2014 at 9:57 AM · Report this

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