The Wind-Up Bird Author

Savannah Boettcher, Rants Editor

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” ― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood.


As one of today’s leading contemporary Japanese authors, Haruki Murakami’s books have been translated into over forty different languages and won global recognition with awards such as the World Fantasy Award, the Franz Kafka Prize, and the Jerusalem Prize. Praised for his humorous and often surreal fiction, Murakami is regarded as one of the most important figures in postmodern literature and praised by The Guardian as “among the world’s greatest living novelists”.


Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto, Japan as part of the post-World War II baby boom. Both of his parents taught Japanese literature, and his grandfather was a Buddhist priest. Since childhood, Murakami was interested in Western culture and heavily influenced by American authors such as Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan. These influences in his writing style helps to distinguish him from typical Japanese writers.


He studied drama at Waseda University in Tokyo, met his wife Yoko, and shortly before he finished his studies, Murakami opened and owned a coffeehouse and jazz bar named the Peter Cat in Tokyo from 1974 to 1981. It wasn’t until he was 29 that Murakami began to seriously write fiction.


“Before, I didn’t write anything,” Murakami said. “I was just one of those ordinary people. I was running a jazz club, and I didn’t create anything at all.”


Murakami’s first novel, Hear the Wind Sing, was written in 1979 after he was inspired while watching a baseball game. His initial success encouraged him to continue writing, and as of 2012, Murakami has published 12 novels, 47 short stories, and 6 nonfiction books and essays.


His highly regarded novels, such as the socially conscious detective story, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle; a modern take on the Oedipus complex, Kafka on the Shore; Murakami’s heartbreaking, Beatles-infused love story, Norwegian Wood; and 1Q84, the dystopian rival to George Orwell’s 1984; have been prized for the unique way that Murakami combines realistic and surrealistic aspects of his stories. Classified as “magical realism”, the uniquely lucid way that Murakami weaves his novels together will most likely secure Murakami’s position as a timeless voice in Japanese literature.


Other than writing, Murakami has also worked as a translator and has translated many of the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, John Irving, Raymond Carver, and more into Japanese. When he was 33, Murakami became both a marathon runner and a triathlete enthusiast which led him to publish a non-fiction memoir called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running where he evaluates his personal connection with running.


Haruki Murakami’s wide array of interests in classical music, running, Western civilization and the surreal have contributed to his uniquely intricate writing style and to Murakami’s position as one of the world’s most powerful living authors.