Today, January 12th, marks the 71st birthday of award-winning Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami. A prolific author whose work masterfully blends realistic fiction with mind-bending surrealistic elements, Murakami has published dozens of novels, short stories, and essays. Translated into more than fifty languages, his works has sold millions of copies across the world.
Born in Kyoto, Japan, Murakami began writing at age 29. On an April afternoon, watching a baseball game between the Yakult Swallows and the Hiroshima Carp at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Murakami was struck by the inspirational thought that he could write a novel. It came to him the same instant the Swallow’s batter hit the ball deep into left field. In his words, “[The idea] felt as if something had come fluttering down from the sky, and I had caught it cleanly in my hands.”
It was an idea that would shape the rest of his life, and the lives of millions of readers for decades to come.
His classics include A Wild Sheep Chase, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Norwegian Wood, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Kafka on the Shore, and 1Q84. Murakami has also written multiple collections of short stories and several nonfiction works.
Murakami is devoted fan of jazz—in the mid-seventies, he and his wife opened a small coffee shop/jazz club—and his personal library boats a collection of nearly 10,000 vinyl records. This passion for music of all genres is a constant theme throughout his work.
Since 1978, Murakami has been using his compelling narrative voice and relatable, utterly human characters to explore themes common to both Japanese culture and the international community. His marvelous, moving, sometimes tragic work provides readers of all ages and nationalities a bright and beautiful window through which to glimpse worlds that are, in turns, completely alien and painfully relatable.
On this day in 1949, Haruki Murakami was born, and what he has done with his voice and his life make this day worth celebrating.