Haruki Murakami is my absolute favorite writer, and he was a great introduction to many of Japan's great writers.
This is an absolutely beautiful story filled with some laughs, great friends, and a heart swelling story about family. No other book I’ve read comes close to explaining the human condition as simply or completely as does The Travelling Cat Chronicles. - randy
Wunderbar! Hints of Saunders and very reminiscent of Murakami but stands solidly on its own 2 feet. "An Exotic Marriage", "How to Burden the Girl", and "Q&A" all blew me away with their originality, and more importantly, their assault on outdated social expectations. Yet again, an Akutagawa winner that I love! - randy
This is going to stay with me for awhile. "My Place in Plural" is great. The narrator's depression is on the nose and beautifully compliments her description of her husband's morning. Okada makes some narrative choices that leave you wondering a bit about what’s going on, however, there is a payoff. A read well worth it! - randy
I first read this several years ago. I had just discovered Murakami and raced through all of the novels awestruck by the worlds he created. This one didn't stand out at the time. I'm sure I was impatient with the anticipation of being blown away by another magical place where life is lived in dreams and deep, dark wells and amongst talking cats. That was my mistake. This is a beautiful story. Possibly his most beautiful. How do we live the life we have if we've lost the life we had? - randy
For 18 years, Keiko has structured her life around working at a convenience store and following the employee manual. Along comes man-child Shiraha. Perhaps he can help her be a little less socially awkward around her family and friends. Funny and thoughtful, here’s another Akutagawa Prize winner I absolutely love! - randy
Perhaps there are better Murakami novels, but Sputnik Sweetheart is my favorite. K and Sumire are friends from university. K stoically pines for Sumire but Sumire is only interested in writing until she meets Miu. One day, while Miu and Sumire are vacationing in Greece, Sumire just disappears. Such a beautiful story summed up best by K - When the orbits of these two satellites of ours happened to cross paths, we could be together. Maybe even open our hearts to each other. But that was only for the briefest moment.
Fantastic read! The direct, simple description of the banal is perfectly balanced with the rich, deep examination of personal and familial history. The Bear and the Paving Stone is a superb example of storytelling with the beautiful, strong prose expected from the Akutagawa Prize winner. - randy
Yeah. This book is phenomenal. A few pages in, I wasn't sure if I would keep going. I would have missed out on an experience I won't soon forget. The amount of tenderness evoked by such a dark, violent narrative is a true testament to a great writer's ability to create empathy. - randy
Generally viewed as Murakami's best novel, Kafka on the Shore is about the isolation you can feel when your 15 and all but orphaned by your father. While relationships are always a big part of his stories, I don't think he does a better job of exploring friendship than he does here. Sputnik Sweetheart is my favorite Murakami, but I can't disagree that Kafka on the Shore is his best. - randy
In a time of great cultural upheaval in Japan, Sosuke and Oyone marry without their parents’ consent. Sosuke’s younger brother comes to join them creating a bit of an existential crisis for Sosuke. The Gate is a story about understanding one’s lot in life even if you may not be able to accept it. The prose is beautiful. It’s easy to feel the influence Soseki has had on Haruki Murakami. No hyperbole here, this is one of my favorite books of all times. - randy
Murakami creates what I think is his most creative world in Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. What happens when your consciousness is separated from the rest of your brain? You go to a world of unicorns where you get as close to immortality as you ever will as you slowly lose all of your memories, of course. It makes it into my top 5 favorite Murakami novels. - randy
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle was my introduction to Murakami, and I recommend starting here. It has everything in it that he does so well - pasta, cats, jazz, wells, etc. - as he explores Japan's not so pleasant imperialism of the mid 20th century. Solidly in my top 5. - randy
We meet Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki in high school where he is part of an inseparable group of friends. After leaving home for college, for a reason unknown to Tsukuru, his friends abandon him, never wanting to hear from him again. This traumatic loss haunts Tsukuru for years as he watches life go by - until he meets Sara. Murakami takes us on Tsukuru's journey from suicidal devastation to survival, and ultimately forgiveness. And all the elements of a Murakami story are there - cats, cooking, dreams, music (of course), trains and beautiful prose. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is simply wonderful. - randy