Birthday Milestone: Haruki Murakami
The celebrated author turns 70

Photo by AP

You’ve seen his quotes shared everywhere online, and probably saw his books on the bestsellers list at your local book store. If there is anything that could describe the works of Haruki Murakami, it would be “personal”, making sure his characters experience what he is experiencing as he writes them.

At the age of 70, Murakami has written over 70 stories and novels, not including those which haven’t been translated into English yet (in fact, his works have been translated into about 50 different languages), with millions of copies being sold outside of his native Japan.

Murakami was born on January 12, 1949 in Kyoto, Japan, among the baby boom generation when Japan was still recovering from the Second World War. An only child, he grew up reading books by Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoyevksy, and Gustav Flaubert (mostly because his parents only talked about Japanese literature, which they taught) – influences that would distinguish him from other writers.

He began writing fiction at the age of 29, with the so-called Trilogy of the Rat (Hear the Wind Sing in 1979, Pinball, 1973 in 1980, and A Wild Sheep Chase in 1982), with the last book receiving critical acclaim. He followed up the Trilogy with Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (which won him literary prizes and an increase in sales) in 1985, and in 1987 released his arguably most known piece of work, Norwegian Wood.

Norwegian Wood launched Murakami into mainstream popularity, even abroad. From then numerous Murakami novels were translated into English, such as After Dark and 1Q84. Murakami also published collections of short stories written by himself, and by several other writers. His most recent publication was 2017’s Killing Commendatore (2018 in the United States), which gained heavy censorship and is prohibited from being sold to minors.

Because Murakami also grew up on Western music (he even put up a jazz bar before he started writing), most of his works are inspired by them such as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, The Prophet Bird, and of course Norwegian Wood after the Beatles song. His alma mater Waseda University, where he took up drama, plans to archive his works and collections for public scholarly use.

To learn more about Haruki Murakami, check out his website at harukimurakami.com 

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