For Chinese, Murakami is a window on the world

MurakamiInterview with Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami in The Asahi Shimbun

For the legions of admirers of Haruki Murakami, the recent release of his latest best-seller, “Shikisai wo Motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to, Kare no Junrei no Toshi” (Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage) could be a harbinger of a long hoped-for honor.

When the Nobel Prize in literature is announced in October, bookmakers are favoring the author of such classic works as “Norwegian Wood” and “Kafka on the Shore” to finally be tabbed.

One of those anxiously awaiting the announcement is Mao Danqing, a professor at Kobe International University. Mao dreams of bringing two contemporary literary giants face to face: Murakami and China’s Mo Yan, the author of such historical sagas as “Red Sorghum Clan,” who last year edged out the Japanese author for the coveted Nobel Prize.

“I am very close to Mo, but to be honest, I wasn’t aware of how highly regarded his works were until I heard the news that he’d won,” says Mao, who first met the writer more than two decades ago.

“His name is far less known and the volume of his book sales is on an entirely different scale than Murakami’s. There’s been no contemporary literary phenomenon out of Asia to match Murakami,” he says, even in his native China.

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