Magazine article Foreign Policy

49 Haruki Murakami: For His Vast Imagination of a Globalized World

Magazine article Foreign Policy

49 Haruki Murakami: For His Vast Imagination of a Globalized World

Article excerpt

Novelist | Japan

When New York Times Magazine critic Sam Anderson visited Tokyo last year to interview Haruki Murakami, he arrived, he later wrote, "expecting Barcelona or Paris or Berlin--a cosmopolitan world capital whose straight-talking citizens were fluent not only in English but also in all the nooks and crannies of Western culture: jazz, theater, literature, sitcoms, film noir, opera, rock 'n' roll." It's no wonder--Anderson had immersed himself in Murakami's fictional Japan, where ennui-afflicted characters read Kafka and listen to Thelonious Monk. Although his novels are set in his insular native country, Murakami has become something of a patron saint of globalization.

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Growing up outside Kobe, Murakami became enamored of American jazz and Western writers, from Dostoyevsky to Vonnegut, Dickens to Capote. He owned a jazz club in Tokyo before turning to the world of fiction, where he is renowned for his genre-bending novels that span different universes yet are littered with real-world cross-cultural references. …

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