The Murakami literary trail [PICS]

As a Haruki Murakami fan, my recent trip to Tokyo became a semi-pilgrimage literary tour dedicated to the popular Japanese author.

I was in part inspired by a New York Times article by Sam Anderson who visited some key places from Murakami’s life and work.

This post documents the places I visited in Tokyo that have appeared in Murakami’s works.

It was crazy to relieve the experience of being in a certain location that was mentioned in a fiction because it felt like walking into the book’s storyline. Continue reading

Best book of 2011: IQ84

Book: IQ84
Author: Haruki Murakami

Okay, if you have read one of my old blog posts, you will probably know that I have a Chinese edition of IQ84 lying in my bookshelf and I was dying to read it given all the hype surrounding Haruki Murakami’s magnum opus.

As much as I did try, it was honestly too much of an effort that I decided to head straight to the English version right away and that was probably the best decision made.

IQ84 was a total hit for me and I am going as far as to declare that it is decidedly the best book of 2011. Indeed, I was that impressed with it.

This novel contains a mix of science fiction, romance, fantasy, thriller and even religious elements in it that gives the plot the depth, breath and variety to keep readers on the tenterhooks.

The story revolves around two main characters, Aomame, a sports club instructor, and Tengo, a cram school math teacher cum aspiring novelists, who at the start led wholly parallel lives, with almost no connection or inkling with each other. As their world turned inside out, it is fascinating to watch how their fates of these two people slowly converge and merge.

Instead of devolving into a run-of-the-mill, boy-meets-girl romance, Murakami’s characters are more than that. They are essentially lonely, empty individuals who feel detached and isolated from the rest of the world, often emanating a whimsical and self-deprecating sense of humor. It feels almost akin to watching a Tim Burton movie.

So in the IQ84 world, they are tightly bounded together by an enigmatic quest that almost sounds like a scene coming out from a fantasy story. The moon is once again invoked as a strong recurring symbol in the night sky, like poets did for centuries, in a mysterious but sensual manner. This made me think of Japanese poet Basho and the moons in his haiku verses:

猫のこい やむときねやの をぼろずき
(cats’ love/ when it is over/ hazy moonlight in the bedroom)

しばらくは 花の上なる 月夜かな
(lingering a while/ above the blossoms/ the moon in the night sky)

月見する 座に美しき 顔もなし

(in this group of people/ admiring the full moon/ not one beautiful face)
Continue reading