Haruki Murakami: How to lose friends and alienate people

Haruki Murakami displays vintage form in his latest novel, but loses the plot in the end, says Srikanth S: Tehelka

MurakamiHaruki Murakami has nothing left to prove. He is the most widely read Japanese novelist of his generation. One of those rare writers whose works consistently garner both critical acclaim and mass appeal in equal measure. The reclusive author’s popularity can be gauged by the fact that the latest editions of his novels advertise only his surname (Wonder what his close friend and fellow author Ryū — who shares the same family name — has to say about that).

But Murakami’s last novel bucked the trend. Published in three instalments in 2009- 10 (translated into English a year later), the surreal1Q84 packed plenty of pages — 628 to be precise, his longest work — but the result was variously described as “clumsy”, “repetitive” and “stupefying”. Murakami’s decision to eschew his familiar first-person narrative technique ended up alienating many readers.

The bad news is that he continues with the less-effective third-person narrative style in his latest novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. But here is the good news: This is a realistic novel, more in the mould of the wildly popular Norwegian Wood(2000) than the experimental novels that followed in its wake.

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