Haruki Murakami is a writer of quietness. In his personal life, he finds peace in small things.
For instance, one of the major factors that contributed to his writing career is the fortitude of his running regimen. Running is a monotonous and rhythmic activity, but to run an ultra-marathon of 100 km requires more than just resolve. A runner runs first and foremost against time; other runners are secondary opponents. To Murakami, running and writing complement each other, because even though they are two completely separate worlds, they are interconnected: Both worlds can transcend and reflect upon each other.
He is known for being a meticulous and patient writer. He will write his ideas down, but if he has to wait for ideas to come about, he will wait. There is no hurriedness in his writing, and when he is not writing his own stories, he is translating works of others. He has translated works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Irving and J. D. Salinger amongst others into Japanese. Like a tireless monk, Murakami enjoys the craft of writing as much as the fantastic ideas that he likes to build up in his novels.
Before Murakami received his mystic revelation to write, he ran a jazz bar called Peter Cat. Ηe began to write after he received this feeling, a warm sensation, which made him feel that he could write a novel. And writing a novel for him is not a simple undertaking. It is a metaphysical activity that connects parallel worlds. Murakami’s life is a search for transcendence. Even though his novels are not always set in a Japanese context, his writing is a journey into his subconscious world, which his readers can experience. Murakami thinks he does not dream because he writes. And his stories are a dream world which he has dreamt up not for himself, but for his readers. He wants his readers not only to enter his thoughts, but also transcend into a dream-like world.
Murakami’s imagination does not run wild. It is born in the mundane and transcends into the surreal in the blink of an eye. It is a complete explosion of ideas and pictures. But at the center of it, there is always a story about a human soul weighed down by a moral commitment. His stories are about the choices we have and the choices that we do not have. They are about the choices we make and choices we have to make. There is a kind of calmness in Murakami’s prose that avoids drama. His words have such finality in them.
Any successful writer can create a character that resonates with the reader. But such a character will always be a character from a particular place and time. Murakami writes stories for the self inside the reader. His stories are like maps into inner worlds of our own souls; Murakami is the guide who shows us the path. Here, it is not possible to know whether the inner journey is a journey into Murakami’s soul or into the reader’s. It is not possible to know whose soul it may be, but the medium of this journey is always Murakami.
Murakami finds refuge in baseball because it is boring. In a different interview, he said that he likes ironing. Underneath the mind that is travelling in parallel words, Murakami finds pleasure in the most mundane things of life, like household chores. The world of dreams must logically reside in the most ordinary things of our world. We live in an ordinary world, and somehow, without a proper knowledge of mundane things in an ordinary world, it is not possible to find real transcendent worlds. The writer Murakami does not only want to write stories, but is also interested in exploring how different worlds transcend into our real one. To comprehend this, he maintains a complete humility and quietness in his ordinary life.
Perhaps this is what makes Murakami a great writer. His works have the therapeutic ability to quieten the mind during chaotic times. In the nineties, when the Soviet Union was crumbling, he became a very popular writer there. During the fall of the Berlin Wall, people found refuge in his books. There is an element of duality in his works that makes Murakami’s voice unique. And perhaps he is the writer who should be read even more today, given the current political turmoil around the world. For indeed, what happens when we open a book and find ourselves completely immersed into a world created by a gifted writer’s words is therapeutic. If we cannot transcend into other worlds or others’ worlds, how will be ever find ways to transcend our limited perspectives and one-sided positions?
Men Without Women, Haruki Murakami