Biography of Haruki Murakami

Contemporary Japanese writer Haruki Murakami is an author of novels, short stories, essays, and nonfiction. His works have been bestsellers in Japan and across the world. Influenced by American writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Chandler, and Richard Brautigan, Murakami's stories have often been described as surrealistic and melancholic, and they stand out from the Japanese literary establishment.

Born in Kyoto in 1949, Murakami studied drama at Waseda University in Tokyo, where he met his wife, Yoko. The two married and upon graduating ran a jazz bar called “Peter Cat” from 1974 to 1981. After a burst of inspiration at a baseball game, Murakami wrote his debut novel, Hear the Wind Sing (1979), which won a contest for first novels. He continued with Pinball, 1973 (1980) and then A Wild Sheep Chase (1983), which brought him critical renown. Meanwhile he closed his bar and became a fulltime writer.

He wrote Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (1985) and then unexpectedly gained great fame and commercial success with Norwegian Wood (1987), which he had written while abroad in Europe. To avoid the unwanted attention, he went to Europe again and then stayed in America from 1991 to 1995. He received the Yomiuri Prize for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1995), and in the wake of Kobe Earthquake and the Aum Shinrikyo sarin gas attack returned to Japan and wrote a book on each of the events, After the Quake (2000) and Underground (1997), respectively. It is said that around this time Murakami's focus shifted from individual suffering to collective suffering.

His more recent works include the novels: Sputnik Sweetheart (1999), Kafka on the Shore (2002), 1Q84 (2009), and the most recent Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage (2013).

Aside from these works, Murakami has also written a memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (2007), and several translations of authors such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Carver, and Truman Capote.


Study Guides on Works by Haruki Murakami

Published in 1987 as Murakami's fifth novel, Norwegian Wood is based on his short story "Firefly,” which was later included in his short story collection Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman. Contrary to his expectations and wishes, the book turned him...