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Haruki Murakami


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Is anyone else a fan of this author?  I started reading his books back when the English release of The Wind Up Bird Chronicle came out, and I immediately fell in love with his writing style.  The fact that TWUBC ended up becoming one of his books that I like the least, despite having liked it so much when I first read it, says a lot about how much I like his work.

This man seems to understand the human mind and heart in a way that most people don't, and has a very unique way of expressing it.  He's ended up being one of my favorite authors, and one that I watch for every new book from so that I can run out and pick it up (or run to the kindle store and grab it, anyway)

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I've been meaning to pick up one of his books for ages, but haven't quite decided which one to get. I wanted to get a smaller one for my first try, so not to spend much money, but I believe the highest rated of his books are all quite long. Plus, I saw the movie adaptation of Norwegian Wood and really wasn't that impressed with the story (although I did enjoy some of the dialogue).

What would be your recommendation for a first Murakami?

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The length of his books can vary quite a bit.  Some of the shorter ones are fantastic too, though they might not have as much depth as the longer ones do.  Even when they're short, they're usually very good.

Probably my favorite of his books was Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.  It's a bit strange, but a lot of Murakami's books have surreal components to them.  That particular book was also a major source of inspiration for the anime Haibane Renmei, so I guess the writers of that anime enjoyed the book too :)

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I am also in love with Haruki Murakami.

I am currently reading 1Q84 and it is great. It is a little bit long though :=) Therefore I would suggest reading Kafka on the shore. I had lots of fun reading it.

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I am currently reading 1Q84 and it is great. It is a little bit long though :=) Therefore I would suggest reading Kafka on the shore. I had lots of fun reading it.

1Q84 was a good book, but I listened to the audiobook for that one during my previous long commutes.  I wasn't a very big fan of the woman that they got to read those parts, though the guy was pretty good.  I think that the narration not being all that great kind of hindered how much I really enjoyed it.

Kafka on the Shore was also pretty good, but it wasn't one of my favorites.  It's definitely worth reading, I think everything by Murakami is, but it's probably below average in my opinion.  Granted, that's only my opinion, and other people might like it more!

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He is my all times favorite writer and has been ever since I read Hard boiled wonderland and at the end of the world. That was10 years ago and since I managed to read everything he wrote and was translated either in English or Romanian. His books contain the perfect amount of surrealism, just enough to keep you wondering.

If you want something to start off with then I recommend his short stories. He has a couple of volumes released and they could help you make an idea.

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Has anyone else here tried reading him in Japanese? I'm yet to start on one of his novels, but I've read a few of his short stories (One was パン屋再襲撃 [The Second Bakery Attack], I can't remember the title of the other ones) and apart from getting the hang of his style they should be readable (if a little challenging) for an upper intermediate.

Incidentally, if you compare the original to Jay Rubin's translations, you can see that he takes a lot of license with it...you might be surprised to find that Murakami's actual style is a little different to how he comes across in English.

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(I really HATE double-posting, but...)

Just as a follow up to what I was saying about Jay Rubin's translations taking a lot of license in the translation, I thought I might add that if you can find the books and stories translated by Alfred Birnbaum they are a lot closer in style to the way that Murakami writes in Japanese. It comes across as a bit messier than Rubin's translation, but if you wanted a more literal translation, or even wanted to have one that you could read in English with the Japanese version, then Birnbaum's translations might be a better fit for you. :)

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  • 2 months later...

I read IQ84 and I loved it soo much!! The ending did throw me a bit, and I was a little unsure about it, but after some contemplation I understood it in my own way. I really enjoyed the character development and the story. One of the best I've read.  But it feels like it needs a sequel!

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  • 3 months later...

I love Haruki Murakami! He's one of the reasons I wanted to learn Japanese, aside from my love for mangas and animes.

I've read Jay Rubin's translation of Norwegian Wood, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Kafka on the Shore, and I really like them. But I really would like to read them in their original form since I know there are a lot of things that can be lost in translation, and some translators are pretty liberal with their translations that nuances are lost in the process, that I may have understood the story differently than what the author had intended.

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  • 1 month later...

Still didn't get a chance to pick up a Murakami, all his books are so damned expensive (must be because of the demand for translators). I think I might pick one in English, they seem to be cheaper, but are the translations any good?

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  • 3 weeks later...

That's strange, where were you looking? At least on Amazon Japan and in Japanese bookshops I've never noticed that his books are any differently priced to other authors (then again, the postage is awful to send it outside Japan). You can get most of his books on Kindle too, as long as you have an Amazon Japan account.

On the thread topic, I've been making my way through a collection of Murakami's novellas and short stories. If anyone's interested, it's his contribution to a series called はじめての文学. The great thing about this collection is that it is aimed at Japanese high school students and so the stories are chosen to be relatively easy to read and there's furigana for a lot of the more difficult words. Also, since they are short stories/novellas, I find each story to be a manageable length - not something you can say about Murakami's longer novels!

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  • 1 month later...

I'd been hearing great things about this author, and I read two of his books in English. My favorite was South of the Border, West of the Sun, which I purchased a Japanese copy of recently. It's really good practice. It's a lot different reading it in the actual language... I think it's much better like this.

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I've only read Norwegian Wood by Murakami, and it was amazing! Hands down one of the best books I've read in a while. I will have to read some more of his novels in the near future, I hope the others are as well written as this one. He is incredibly talented!

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  • 2 months later...

I'm currently reading The Wind Up Bird Chronicle in English alongside the Japanese counterpart. What I do is ready a sentence or a paragraph in English and then go to the Japanese version and try to read the same amount. It's difficult because I don't know a lot of the kanji or vocabulary he's using, and it's taking a while to do. That being said, from what I've read so far, he's a great writer and I really appreciate his work.

I also own his newest book, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, and I absolutely can't wait to read it afterwards.

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There are some pretty big differences between the original Japanese and Jay Rubin's translations (which are more of a free translation than a close one). So if you're trying to work out the meaning of the original Japanese and it sounds nothing like the English, don't worry too much! :)

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  • 3 months later...

Haruki Murakami was one of my first encounters with Japanese literature way back in the day and I'm still a big fan of his work.

I really love his short stories, I really recommend "The Elephant Vanishes: Stories" which is a collection of 15 of his shorter stories.

I've also recently purchased Underground and I'm really looking forward to start reading his books in Japanese.

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  • 8 months later...

My first Murakami book was The Wind Up Bird Chronicle and I really enjoyed the beginning of it. The intro especially grabbed me with the author explaining his thoughts and actions while he was in the kitchen cooking. I have to say that there are certain scenes or story parts that weighed the book down and didn't really do much for me. However, it did make me became somewhat of a Murakami fan. I eventually read his other book, Norwegian Wood which was probably the most "normal" of Murakami's works. I haven't had the time to read 198Q, but I would like to get to it some day. I have read some excerpts in Japanese from Kafka on the Shore, so maybe I'll try that one next!

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I love his books and his insight on the human condition are always so refreshing. He's the type of author who really researches on what he writes and explores and experiments with different genres. First book I read was 1Q84 and found it to drag on and on pointlessly, but it was a good book overall. I didn't think it needed that length to push the story though. My favorite is the same as yours and is one of the books I always recommend to people. 

I also recommend reading some Kazuo Ishiguro as he's a wonderful author as well.

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