Saturday, February 17, 2007

Haruki Murakami and the art of alienation

Haruki Murakami and the art of alienation !!!

Atomised society gives rise to alienation. Ok, that’s a cliché. Capitalist evolution inevitably results in separated human beings. Tell me something new yaar!

The question is what can you say constructively about arguably the greatest crisis human beings as a race is facing now? The answer to this has been given by a writer from Japan who is now an international superstar. Murakami has so far provided us with a bunch of fiction including novels and short stories and a book of non-fiction.

Let’s start with the non-fiction. The book titled ‘Underground’ is a social investigation into the collective Japanese consciousness in the aftermath of the Tokyo gas tragedy. In the scenario of escalating violence both terrorist as well as daily corporate violence (Murakami’s phrase), ‘underground’ makes up for a must read for anyone at least remotely interested in knowing the direction which humans are taking. Divided into two sections, the first part is a collection of interviews with both the survivors of the attack as well as some of the victims’ families while the second part deals with Murakami’s interviews with the perpetrators of the crime. Chillingly enough, we can easily identify with at least some of perpetrators given the reasons behind their actions are very simple and their thoughts more or less exactly like a common mans, except that they took those thoughts to a drastic level.

For those of you who are not yet acquainted with Murakami books at all, I would recommend ‘Kafka on the shore’ and ‘Dance dance dance’ as opening points. While ‘Kafka..’ is about a 15 year old runaway whose father had prophesied that he would make love to both his mother and sister and also would kill his father before he turns 16, ‘dance..’ is about a man who dreams of a mysterious hotel and a call girl calling out to him for help and he decides to go save her, surrealistically.

Haruki Murakami is generally considered as a successor to Franz Kafka and it is rightly so. But to channelise him to one particular stream of writing would be unfair.

‘Norwegian wood’ is the book that made him famous, and also depressed, which is supposedly ‘the book that everyone in Japan has read’. Some of his other books include the supremely staggering ‘Wind up bird chronicle’ , the poignant ‘Sputnik sweeheart’ and much more. I am not going to elaborate about the stories and plots of those novels as all you have to do is just go and immerse yourself in his world and you would know what I am talking about.

And for those who don’t like reading, there are audiobooks available. So no excuses!



Temujin said...

Interesting post and excellent writing skills. :)

Jennie said...

Have you read "Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World"? That is by far my favorite book my Murakami.

I love his style of writing; how it's all so painfully matter-of-fact.

To be honest, I didn't like Kafka on the Shore too much. I felt it was a bit too random (unless, you can explain to me why it isn't =)) and didn't tie in together.

Do you recommend Wind-up Bird Chronicles?

dhinoj said...

hi jennie....this is dhinoj.If u liked "Hard Boiled Wonderland...." u should definitely go for "Wind up Bird Chronicle".Its one of his best

Anonymous said...

jennie - if you're checking back still - the Wind-up Bird Chronicle is magnificent, I would absolutely recommend it - painfully matter-of-fact as you say, and at the same time completely unreal and just beautiful.

Anonymous said...

i m a newcomer to murakami world. i read norwegian wood and south of the border west of the sun...
addicted to murakami