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 is a Japanese writer and translator. His works of fiction and non-fiction have garnered him critical acclaim, and he is the sixth recipient of the Franz Kafka Prize for his novel Kafka on the Shore. He is considered an important figure in postmodern literature, and The Guardian praised him as one of the "world's greatest living novelists."


Murakami was born in post-war Japanmarker during the baby boomer generation. Although he was born in Kyoto, he spent most of his youth in Shukugawa, Kobe. His father was the son of a Buddhist priest. His mother was the daughter of an Osaka merchant. Both taught Japanese literature.

Since childhood, Murakami has been heavily influenced by Western culture, particularly Western music and literature. He grew up reading a range of works by American writers such as Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan, and he is often distinguished from other Japanese writers for his Western influences.

Murakami studied drama at Waseda Universitymarker in Tokyomarker, where he met his wife, Yoko. His first job was at a record store, which is where one of his main characters, Toru Watanabe in Norwegian Wood, works. Shortly before finishing his studies, Murakami opened the coffeehouse (jazz bar, in the evening) "Peter Cat" in Kokubunji, Tokyo with his wife. They ran the bar from 1974 until 1981.

Many of his novels have themes and titles referring to classical music, such as the three books comprising The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: The Thieving Magpie (after Rossini's opera overture), Bird as Prophet (after a piano piece by Robert Schumann usually known in English as The Prophet Bird), and The Bird-Catcher (a character in Mozart's opera The Magic Flute). Some of his novels take their titles from songs: Dance, Dance, Dance (after The Dells' song, although it is widely thought it was titled after the Beach Boys tune), Norwegian Wood (after The Beatles' song) and South of the Border, West of the Sun (the first part being the title of a song by Nat King Cole).

Murakami is a keen marathon runner and triathlete, although he did not start running until he was 33 years old. On June 23, 1996, Murakami completed his first ultramarathon, a 100-kilometer race around Lake Saromamarker in Hokkaido, Japanmarker. He discusses his relationship with running in his 2008 work What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

"Trilogy of the Rat"

Murakami wrote his first fiction when he was 29. He said he was inspired to write his first novel, 1979's Hear the Wind Sing, while watching a baseball game. In 1978, Murakami was in Jingu Stadiummarker watching a game between the Yakult Swallows and the Hiroshima Carp when Dave Hilton, an Americanmarker, came to bat. According to an oft-repeated story, in the instant that Hilton hit a double, Murakami suddenly realized he could write a novel. He went home and began writing that night. Murakami worked on it for several months in very brief stretches after working days at the bar. He completed a novel and sent it to the only literary contest which would accept a work of that length, and won first prize.

His initial success with Hear the Wind Sing encouraged him to keep writing. A year later, he published Pinball, 1973, a sequel. In 1982, he published A Wild Sheep Chase, a critical success. Hear the Wind Sing, Pinball, 1973, and A Wild Sheep Chase form the "Trilogy of the Rat" (a sequel, Dance, Dance, Dance, was written later but is not considered part of the series), centered on the same unnamed narrator and his friend, "the Rat". The first two novels are unpublished in English translation outside of Japan, where an English edition with extensive translation notes was published as part of a series intended for English students. Murakami considers his first two novels to be "weak," and was not eager to have them translated into English. A Wild Sheep Chase was "The first book where I could feel a kind of sensation, the joy of telling a story. When you read a good story, you just keep reading. When I write a good story, I just keep writing."

Wider recognition

In 1985, Murakami wrote Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, a dreamlike fantasy which takes the magical elements in his work to a new extreme.

Murakami achieved a major breakthrough and national recognition in 1987 with the publication of Norwegian Wood, a nostalgic story of loss and sexuality. It sold millions of copies among Japanese youths, making Murakami a literary superstar in his native country. The book was printed in two separate volumes, sold together, so that the number of books sold actually doubled, creating the million-copy bestseller hype. One book had a green cover, the other one red.

In 1986, Murakami left Japan, traveled throughout Europe, and settled in the United Statesmarker. He was a writing fellow at Princeton Universitymarker in Princeton, New Jerseymarker, and at Tufts Universitymarker in Medford, Massachusettsmarker. During this time he wrote South of the Border, West of the Sun and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

An established novelist

In 1994/1995, he published The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. This novel fuses realistic and fantastic tendencies, and contains elements of physical violence. It is also more socially conscious than his previous work, dealing in part with the difficult topic of war crimes in Manchuria (Manchukuo). The novel won the Yomiuri Prize, awarded by one of his harshest former critics, Kenzaburo Oe, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1994.

The processing of collective trauma soon became an important theme in Murakami's writing, which had until then been more personal in nature. While he was finishing The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Japan was shaken by the Kobe earthquakemarker and the Aum Shinrikyo gas attack, in the aftermath of which he returned to Japan. He came to terms with these events with his first work of non-fiction, Underground, and the short story collection after the quake. Underground consists largely of interviews of victims of the gas attacks in the Tokyo subway system.

English translations of many of his short stories written between 1983 and 1990 have been collected in The Elephant Vanishes. He has also translated many of the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Carver, Truman Capote, John Irving, and Paul Theroux, among others, into Japanese.

In 2006, Murakami became the sixth recipient of the Franz Kafka Prize from the Czech Republicmarker for his novel Umibe no Kafuka (Kafka on the Shore).

In September 2007, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Liègemarker, as well as one from Princeton Universitymarker in June 2008.

In January 2009 Murakami received the Jerusalem Prize, a biennial literary award given to writers whose work has dealt with themes of human freedom, society, politics, and government. There were protests in Japan and elsewhere against his attending the February award ceremony in Israelmarker (including threats to boycott his work) as a response against Israelmarker's recent bombing of Gazamarker. Murakami chose to attend the ceremony but gave a speech harshly critiquing Israeli policies to the gathered Israeli dignitaries. Murakami said, "Each of us possesses a tangible living soul. The system has no such thing. We must not allow the system to exploit us."

Recent work

Sputnik Sweetheart was first published in 1999. Kafka on the Shore was published in 2002, with the English translation following in 2005. The English version of his novel, After Dark, was released in May 2007. It was chosen by the New York Times as a "notable book of the year". In late 2005, Murakami published a collection of short stories titled Tōkyō Kitanshū, or 東京奇譚集, which translates loosely as "Mysteries of Tokyo". A collection of the English versions of twenty-four short stories, titled Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, was published in August 2006. This collection includes both older works from the 1980s as well as some of Murakami's most recent short stories, including all five that appear in Tōkyō Kitanshū.

Murakami recently published an anthology called Birthday Stories, which collects short stories on the theme of birthdays by Russell Banks, Ethan Canin, Raymond Carver, David Foster Wallace, Denis Johnson, Claire Keegan, Andrea Lee, Daniel Lyons, Lynda Sexson, Paul Theroux, and William Trevor, as well as a story by Murakami himself.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, featuring tales about his experience as a marathon runner and a triathlete, has been published in Japan, with English translations released in the U.K. and the U.S. The title is a play on that of Raymond Carver's collection of short stories, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.

Shinchosha Publishing published Murakami's newest novel, 1Q84, in Japan on May 29, 2009. 1Q84 is pronounced as 'ichi kyū hachi yon', the same as 1984, as 9 is also pronounced as 'kyū' in Japanese.

Criticism and influence

Murakami's fiction, often criticized by Japan's literary establishment, is humorous and surreal, and at the same time digresses on themes of alienation and loneliness. Through his work, he was able to capture the spiritual emptiness of his generation and explore the negative effects of Japan's work-dominated mentality. His writing criticizes the decline in human values and a loss of connection among people in Japan's society.

Murakami was awarded the 2007 Kiriyama Prize for Fiction for his collection of short stories Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, but according to the Kiriyama Official Website, Murakami "declined to accept the award for reasons of personal principle".

Films and other adaptations

Murakami's first novel Hear the Wind Sing (Kaze no uta o kike) was adapted by Japanese director Kazuki Ōmori. The film was released in 1981 and distributed by Art Theatre Guild.

Naoto Yamakawa directed two short films Attack on the Bakery (released in 1982) and A Girl, She is 100 Percent (released in 1983), based on Murakami's short stories Attack on the Bakery and On Seeing the 100% Perfect Woman One Beautiful April Morning respectively.

Japanese director Jun Ichikawa adapted Murakami's short story Tony Takitani into a 75-minute feature. The film played at various film festivals and was released in New York and Los Angeles on July 29, 2005. The original short story (as translated by Jay Rubin) is available in the April 15, 2002 issue of The New Yorker, as a stand-alone book published by Cloverfield Press, and part of Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Knopf.

In 1998 the German film Der Eisbaer (Polar Bear), written and directed by Granz Henman, used elements of Murakami's short story The Second Bakery Attack in three intersecting story lines.

Murakami's work was also adapted for the stage in a 2003 play entitled The Elephant Vanishes, co-produced by Britain's Complicite company and Japan's Setagaya Public Theatre. The production, directed by Simon McBurney, adapted three of Murakami's short stories and received acclaim for unique blending of multimedia (video, music, and innovative sound design) with actor-driven physical theater (mime, dance, and even acrobatic wire work). On tour, the play was performed in Japanese, with supertitles translation for European and American audience.

Two stories from Murakami's book after the quakeHoney Pie and Superfrog Saves Tokyo— have been adapted for the stage and directed by Frank Galati. Entitled after the quake, the play was first performed at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in association with La Jolla Playhouse, and opened on October 12, 2007 at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. In 2008, Galati adapted and directed a theatrical version of Kafka on the Shore also first running at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater from September to November.

On Max Richter's 2006 album Songs from Before, Robert Wyatt reads passages from Murakami's novels.

In 2007, Robert Logevall adapted All God's Children Can Dance into a film, with a soundtrack composed by American jam band Sound Tribe Sector 9.

In 2008, Tom Flint adapted On Seeing the 100% Perfect Woman One Beautiful April Morning into a short film. The film was screened at the 2008 CON-CAN Movie Festival. The film was viewed, voted, and commented upon as part of the audience award for the movie festival.

It was announced in July 2008 that French-Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung would direct an adaptation of Murakami's novel, Norwegian Wood. The film will be released in 2010.



Original Title Original Publication Date English Title English Publication Date
Kaze no uta wo kike
1979 Hear the Wind Sing 1987
1973-nen no pinbōru
1980 Pinball, 1973 1985
Hitsuji wo meguru bōken
1982 A Wild Sheep Chase 1989
Sekai no owari to hādoboirudo wandārando
1985 Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World 1991
Noruwei no mori
1987 Norwegian Wood 2000
Dansu dansu dansu
1988 Dance Dance Dance 1994
Kokkyō no minami, taiyō no nishi
1992 South of the Border, West of the Sun 2000
Nejimaki-dori kuronikuru
1995 The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle 1997
Supūtoniku no koibito
1999 Sputnik Sweetheart 2001
Umibe no Kafuka
2002 Kafka on the Shore 2005
Afutā Dāku
2004 After Dark 2007
2009 1Q84 2011

Short stories

Year Japanese Title English Title Appears in
1980 中国行きのスロウ・ボート
"Chūgoku-yuki no surou bōto"
"A Slow Boat to China" The Elephant Vanishes
"Binbō na obasan no hanashi"
"A 'Poor Aunt' Story" (The New Yorker, December 3, 2001) Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
1981 ニューヨーク炭鉱の悲劇
"Nyū Yōku tankō no higeki"
"New York Mining Disaster" (The New Yorker, January 11, 1999)
"Supagetī no toshi ni"
"The Year of Spaghetti" (The New Yorker, November 21, 2005)
"Shigatsu no aru hareta asa ni 100-paasento no onna no ko ni deau koto ni tsuite"
"On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning" The Elephant Vanishes
"Dabchick" Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
"A Perfect Day for Kangaroos"
"Kangarū tsūshin"
"The Kangaroo Communique" The Elephant Vanishes
1982 午後の最後の芝生
"Gogo no saigo no shibafu"
"The Last Lawn of the Afternoon"
"The Mirror" Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
"Tongari-yaki no seisui"
"The Rise and Fall of Sharpie Cakes"

"Naya wo yaku"
"Barn Burning" (The New Yorker, November 2, 1992) The Elephant Vanishes
1984 野球場
"Crabs" Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
"Ōto 1979"
"Nausea 1979"
"Hantingu naifu"
"Hunting Knife" (The New Yorker, November 17, 2003)
"Odoru kobito"
"The Dancing Dwarf" The Elephant Vanishes
1985 レーダーホーゼン
"Panya saishūgeki"
"The Second Bakery Attack"
"Zō no shōmetsu"
"The Elephant Vanishes" (The New Yorker, November 18, 1991)
"Famirī afea"
"A Family Affair"
1986 ローマ帝国の崩壊・一八八一年のインディアン蜂起・ヒットラーのポーランド侵入・そして強風世界
"Rōma-teikoku no hōkai・1881-nen no Indian hōki・Hittorā no Pōrando shinnyū・soshite kyōfū sekai"
"The Fall of the Roman Empire, the 1881 Indian Uprising, Hitler's Invasion of Poland, and the Realm of Raging Winds"
"Nejimaki-dori to kayōbi no onnatachi"
"The Wind-up Bird And Tuesday's Women" (The New Yorker, November 26, 1990)
1989 眠り
"Sleep" (The New Yorker, March 30, 1992)
"TV pīpuru no gyakushū"
"TV People" (The New Yorker, September 10, 1990)
"Hikōki-arui wa kare wa ika ni shite shi wo yomu yō ni hitorigoto wo itta ka"
"Aeroplane: Or, How He Talked to Himself as if Reciting Poetry" (The New Yorker, July 01, 2002) Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
"Warera no jidai no fōkuroa-kōdo shihonshugi zenshi"
"A Folklore for My Generation: A Prehistory of Late-Stage Capitalism"
1990 トニー滝谷
"Tonī Takitani"
"Tony Takitani" (The New Yorker, April 15, 2002)
1991 沈黙
"The Silence" The Elephant Vanishes
"Midori-iro no kemono"
"The Little Green Monster"
"Kōri otoko"
"The Ice Man" Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
"Hito-kui neko"
"Man-Eating Cats" (The New Yorker, December 4, 2000)
1995 めくらやなぎと、眠る女
"Mekurayanagi to, nemuru onna"
"Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman"
1996 七番目の男
"Nanabanme no otoko"
"The Seventh Man"
1999 UFOが釧路に降りる
"UFO ga Kushiro ni oriru"
"UFO in Kushiro" (The New Yorker, March 19, 2001) after the quake
"Airon no aru fūkei"
"Landscape with Flatiron"
"Kami no kodomotachi wa mina odoru"
"All God's Children Can Dance"
"Kaeru-kun, Tōkyō wo sukuu"
"Super-Frog Saves Tokyo"
2000 蜂蜜パイ
"Hachimitsu pai"
"Honey Pie" (The New Yorker, August 20, 2001)
2002 バースデイ・ガール
"Bāsudei gāru"
"Birthday Girl" Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
2005 偶然の旅人
"Gūzen no tabibito"
"Chance Traveller"
"Hanarei Bei"
"Hanalei Bay"
"Doko de are sore ga mitsukarisō na basho de"
"Where I'm Likely to Find It" (The New Yorker, May 2, 2005)
"Hibi idō suru jinzō no katachi wo shita ishi"
"The Kidney-Shaped Stone That Moves Every Day"
"Shinagawa saru"
"A Shinagawa Monkey" (The New Yorker, February 13, 2006)

Essays and Non-Fictions

English Japanese
Year Title Year Title
N/A Not yet published in English ) 1990 雨天炎天
"Uten Enten"
N/A Not yet published in English 1997 ポ-トレイト・イン・ジャズ
"Pōtoreito in jazu"
2000 Underground 1997-1998 アンダーグラウンド
N/A Not yet published in English 2001 ポ-トレイト・イン・ジャズ 2
"Pōtoreito in jazu 2"

2008 What I Talk About When I Talk About Running 2007 走ることについて語るときに僕の語ること
"Hashiru koto ni tsuite kataru toki ni boku no kataru koto"
N/A Not yet published in English ) 2008 意味がなければスイングはない
"Imi ga nakereba suingu wa nai"


Translators of Murakami's works

Murakami's works have been translated into many languages. Below is a list of translators according to language (by alphabetical order):
  • Arabic - Saeed Alganmi, Iman Harrz Allah
  • Brazilian Portuguese - Ana Luiza Dantas Borges
  • Bulgarian - Ljudmil Ljutskanov
  • Catalan - Albert Nolla
  • Chinese - 賴明珠/Lai Ming-zhu (Taiwan), 林少華/Lin Shao-hua (China), 葉惠/Ye Hui (Hong Kong, China)
  • Croatian - Vojo Šindolić
  • Czech - Tomáš Jurkovič
  • Danish - Mette Holm
  • Dutch - Elbrich Fennema, Jaques Westerhoven, L. van Haute
  • English - Alfred Birnbaum, Jay Rubin, Philip Gabriel, Hideo Levy (USA), Theodore W. Goossen (Canada)
  • Estonian - Kati Lindström, Kristina Uluots
  • Faroese - Pauli Nielsen
  • Finnish - Leena Tamminen, Ilkka Malinen, Juhani Lindholm
  • French - Corinne Atlan, Hélène Morita, Patrick De Vos, Véronique Brindeau
  • Galician - Mona Imai, Gabriel Álvarez Martínez
  • German - Ursula Gräfe, Nora Bierich, Sabine Mangold, Uwe Hohmann
  • Greek - Maria Aggelidou, Thanasis Douvris, Leonidas Karatzas, Juri Kovalenko, Stelios Papazafeiropoulos, Giorgos Voudiklaris
  • Hebrew - Einat Cooper, Dr. Michal Daliot-Bul
  • Hungarian - Erdős György, Horváth Kriszta, Komáromy Rudolf
  • Icelandic - Uggi Jónsson
  • Indonesian - Jonjon Johana
  • Italian - Giorgio Amitrano, Antonietta Pastore
  • Korean - Kim Choon-Mie, Kim Nanjoo
  • Latvian - Ingūna Beķere
  • Lithuanian - Milda Dyke, Irena Jomantienė, Jūratė Nauronaitė, Marius Daškus, Dalia Saukaitytė, Ieva Stasiūnaitė
  • Norwegian - Ika Kaminka, Kari and Kjell Risvik
  • Persian - Gita Garakani, Mehdi Ghobarayi, Bozorgmehr Sharafoddin
  • Polish - Anna Zielinska-Elliott
  • Portuguese - Maria João Lourenço, Leiko Gotoda
  • Romanian - Angela Hondru, Silvia Cercheaza, Andreea Sion, Iuliana Tomescu
  • Russian - Dmitry V. Kovalenin, Ivan Sergeevich Logatchev, Sergey Ivanovich Logatchev, Anatoly Lyan
  • Serbian - Nataša Tomić, Divna Tomić
  • Slovak - Lucia Kružlíková
  • Slovee - Nika Cejan, Aleksander Mermal
  • Spanish - Lourdes Porta, Junichi Matsuura, Fernando Rodríguez-Izquierdo y Gavala
  • Swedish - Yukiko Duke, Eiko Duke, Vibeke Emond
  • Thai - Noppadol Vatsawat, Komsan Nantachit, Tomorn Sukprecha
  • Turkish - Pınar Polat, Nihal Önol, Hüseyin Can Erkin
  • Ukrainian - Ivan Dziub, Oleksandr Bibko
  • Vietnamese - Trinh Lu, Tran Tien Cao Dang, Duong Tuong, Cao Viet Dung, Pham Xuan Nguyen
  • Georgian - Irakli Beriashvili


  1. Publishers Weekly, 1991
  2. Endelstein, Wendy, What Haruki Murakami talks about when he talks about writing, UC Berkeley News, Oct 15, 2008, Accessed Jan 28, 2009
  3. Gray, Jason (2008). Tran to adapt Norwegian Wood for Asmik Ace, Fuji TV, Screen article retrieved August 1, 2008.


Pintor, Ivan. "David Lynch y Haruki Murakami, la llama en el umbral," in: VV.AA., Universo Lynch. Internacional Sitges Film Festival-Calamar, 2007 (ISBN: 84-96235-16-5)

Rubin, Jay. Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words. Harvill Press, 2002 (ISBN: 1860469523)

Strecher, Matthew Carl. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Readers Guide. Continuum Pub Group, 2002 (ISBN: 0826452396)

Strecher, Matthew Carl. Dances with Sheep: The Quest for Identity in the Fiction of Murakami Haruki. University of Michigan/Monographs in Japanese Studies, 2001. (ISBN 1-929280-07-6)

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