Biography of Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami is a Japanese novelist, short-story writer, and essayist. His works, characterized by a signature blend of the otherworldly and the mundane, have been bestsellers in Japan and across the world.

Born in Kyoto in 1949, Murakami studied 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 moment of inspiration at a baseball game, Murakami began writing, and published his debut novel, Hear the Wind Sing (1979), at age thirty. Influenced by American writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Chandler, and Richard Brautigan, Murakami has said that he wrote passages of the novel in English and then translated his words into Japanese to have a more Western rhythm to his prose. The novel won Japan's Gunzo Literature Prize. Murakami continued with Pinball, 1973 (1980), and then A Wild Sheep Chase (1983), which made him stand out from the Japanese literary establishment and brought him critical renown.

Murakami gained broader fame and commercial success with Norwegian Wood (1987), which he wrote while living abroad in Europe. To avoid 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), considered by many to be his greatest novel. In the wake of the Kobe Earthquake and the Aum Shinrikyo sarin gas attacks, Murakami wrote nonfiction books on each of the events: After the Quake (2000) and Underground (1997), respectively. These works marked a shift in Murakami's focus from individual suffering to collective suffering.

Murakami has continued his prolific fiction output with a new novel or story collection every few years. Murakami has also written a memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (2007), in which he relates his experience as a novelist to his passion for marathon running.

Study Guides on Works by Haruki Murakami

1Q84 is an alternate history fiction written by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, with the first two volumes published on May 29, 2009, by Shinchosha. The third volume was later published on April 16, 2010. The English-language versions of the...

Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore is a surrealist novel about Kafka Tamura, a fifteen-year-old boy who leaves home to escape an Oedipal curse that predicts he will murder his father and have sex with his mother and sister.

Murakami alternates...

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...