Haruki Murakami is one of my favourite writers and someone who has influenced me a great deal. I’d like to think he’s had an effect on my writing, but I wouldn’t be so bold; however, he has encouraged me to experiment with magic realism a little, as he does in much of his work. In fact, I think it’s due to the magic realism in his books, that I’ve ended up seeing the world slightly differently. He is such a clever writer that he is able to slip in certain details, which although quite odd, for some reason don’t feel out of place.
I used to live in Japan and reading Murakami’s novels enabled me to better understand the people I met there. The Japanese have a tendency to be closed, introverted people but Murakami brings out their quirks – he makes us realise how interesting everyone can be, not just those who broadcast their attractions to the world. I also feel I have quite a bit in common with him; we both love jazz, cats and long distance running, and I can’t help feeling that these seemingly disparate elements are all quite conducive to writing.
Murakami used to run a jazz bar in Tokyo called ‘Peter Cat.’ It’s been said that he’d come home in the early hours then sit at his kitchen table all night writing and this went on until he felt successful enough to leave his job. Murakami compares writing to jazz – the rhythms and sounds seem somehow to be comparable and this is discussed in Murakami and the Music of Words
Cats make regular appearances in his books, and many of them talk, while Murakami differentiates between stripy ones and black ones. Of course you get the feeling that it’s all a bit tongue in cheek, but it’s still pretty heart warming stuff that can make any cat owner feel even closer to their furry pet.
Murakami is also an obsessive marathon runner and runs almost every day. Indeed he wrote a great book about it – What I talk about when I talk about running. Running has always been a form of meditation in that it enables me to clear my head in order to create, and I guess it’s the same for Murakami.
If you haven’t read anything by this great writer, I’d recommend that you start with Norwegian Wood which was also made into a film, and 1Q84 (Q sounds like ‘kyu,’ which in Japanese means ‘9’ – i.e. 1984, only it’s every so slightly different – read it and see!)