You Know You’re Reading a Haruki Murakami Novel When…

Haruki Murakami has become a household name for book fiends across the globe. Outside of Japan, his novels have been translated into roughly fifty different languages and have sold millions upon millions of copies the world over. Murakami is a man of varied tastes and interests, but it is almost too easy to spot telltale signs of his style once you become familiar with his writing. Some of these clues are:


1. Cats


Wind Up Bird

Image Via Goodreads


In a Murakami novel you can almost guarantee that a cat will make an appearance, and will help guide the protagonist in some way, shape, or form. This quote from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle perfectly demonstrates that fact:


Holding this soft, small living creature in my lap this way, though, and seeing how it slept with complete trust in me, I felt a warm rush in my chest. I put my hand on the cat’s chest and felt his heart beating. The pulse was faint and fast, but his heart, like mine, was ticking off the time allotted to his small body with all the restless earnestness of my own.


2. Music


Hard Boiled Wonderland

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The man is a huge fan of music – classical, jazz, the talents of Bob Dylan, the Beatles, etc. His love of and appreciation for music is showcased in this quote from The Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World:


Music brings a warm glow to my vision, thawing mind and muscle from their endless wintering.



3. Food—specifically pasta or spaghetti


In nearly every Murakami book we see the protagonist going into a lengthy production of food preparation, and it never fails to calm him down. We get a sampling of this in another quote from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle


I decided to make spaghetti for lunch again. Not that I was the least bit hungry. But I couldn’t just go on sitting on the sofa, waiting for the phone to ring. I had to move my body, to begin working toward some goal. I put water in a pot, turned on the gas, and until it boiled I would make tomato sauce while listening to an FM broadcast.


4. Parallel(ish) universes



Image Via Goodreads


A Murakami novel almost always exists in a universe that becomes weird and strange in some way. Our protagonist tends to lose sight of the lines that delineate the real world from a potentially mirror-imaged one. Our hero will undergo a strange odyssey or moment of disbelief for the world around him, as demonstrated in this quote from 1Q84


It’s just that you’re about to do something out of the ordinary. And after you do something like that, the everyday look of things might seem to change a little. Things may look different to you than they did before. But don’t let appearances fool you. There’s always only one reality.





south of the border

Image Via Goodreads


Typically unrequited, lost, or excruciatingly complicated, Murakami’s novels deal a lot in love. The protagonist may not ever be reunited with, or find the person he desires, but love remains a very strong theme in every single one of Murakami’s novels. This quote from South of the Border, West of the Sun seems to showcase these feelings of love, loss, and acceptance:


For a long time, she held a special place in my heart. I kept this special place just for her, like a ‘Reserved’ sign on a quiet corner table in a restaurant. Despite the fact that I was sure I’d never see her again.



Feature Image Via Madison Lake Pages