New Yorker’s interview with Haruki Murakami; A tour of an underground world

There are conflicting opinions about Haruki Murakami, the "Mr. Special" of fiction, but at least everyone agrees that he's weird. Murakami is a famous Japanese writer. His novels, plays, and short stories are often bestsellers in Japan and around the world. His books have been translated into 50 languages. In a recent interview with the New Yorker, Haruki Murakami has considered the audience's unexpected reception of his early stories to be the cause of sparks in his mind. This reception made him, while devoting all his time to writing, perfect his way of writing stories and follow the writing of stories with more complex topics. Murakami's writings and narratives are almost always revelatory and curious.

BingMag.com New Yorker’s interview with Haruki Murakami; A tour of an underground world

There are conflicting opinions about Haruki Murakami, the "Mr. Special" of fiction, but at least everyone agrees that he's weird. Murakami is a famous Japanese writer. His novels, plays, and short stories are often bestsellers in Japan and around the world. His books have been translated into 50 languages. In a recent interview with the New Yorker, Haruki Murakami has considered the audience's unexpected reception of his early stories to be the cause of sparks in his mind. This reception made him, while devoting all his time to writing, perfect his way of writing stories and follow the writing of stories with more complex topics. Murakami's writings and narratives are almost always revelatory and curious.

The heroes of Murakami's stories often go on exploratory missions in search of a solution. The way they go can in some cases lead to a familiar situation, in other cases to profound and fundamental results. Murakami has shown in his works that he is both a master of suspense and a master of sociology. There are deep secrets behind his simple language. In his stories, he wrote about strange creatures, spirits meeting each other in the afterlife, and about little people emerging from paintings. Most of his works, which present a dreamlike picture of the world, are actually investigations into lost connections. The characters of this author's stories are often people who fail to understand and know each other like normal people.

The following interview is a part of the interview that Deborah Treisman had with Haruki Murakami at the New Yorker Festival in 2008 and 2018 and February Published in the New Yorker in 2019. Murakami has always been one of the most interesting subjects for interviewers. Someone who believes that writing a novel is no longer interesting if the author has a plan in advance and knows the end of his story, or believes that no matter how ordinary a person is in normal life, writing is special or at least strange.

BingMag.com New Yorker’s interview with Haruki Murakami; A tour of an underground world

Deborah Treisman:What have you been through since our last interview?

Haruki Murakami: Ten years have passed since our last interview and many important events have happened in these ten years. For example, I am ten years older. It is a very important issue, at least for me. I'm getting older and the older I get the more I think about myself than I did when I was younger. These days, I try to be a gentleman. As you know, it is not easy to be both a gentleman and a writer. It's like a politician trying to be Obama or Trump. But I have one definition of a gentleman writer: firstly, he doesn't talk about the tax he paid, secondly, he doesn't write about his ex-wife or girlfriend, and thirdly, he doesn't think about the Nobel Prize in Literature. So Deborah, please don't ask me about those three things, I'm going to get in trouble.

I want to start with your latest book and your new novel, To Kill a Brave Knight. The book is about a man whose wife left him. He ends his life in the house of an old painter. As soon as you enter that house, strange things happen and some of them seem to emerge from a hole in the ground. Where did this novel idea come from?

BingMag.com New Yorker’s interview with Haruki Murakami; A tour of an underground world

This book is a big book and writing it It took a year and a half, but it started with just a paragraph or two. I wrote those paragraphs and put them in my desk drawer and forgot about them. Three or six months later, I got the idea that I could turn that one or two paragraphs into a novel, and I started writing. I had no plan, no timeline, no story line: I just started writing from the same paragraph or two and kept going. The story led me to the end. If you have a plan and you know the end when you start, writing that novel is not fun. A painter might make sketches before he starts painting, but I don't, there is a white canvas and a brush and I just paint the main picture.>There is a knight character in the novel whose form is taken from Mozart's opera "Don Juan". Why is this idea/character central to the story?

I usually start my books with a title. In this case, I had the title "To Kill a Brave Knight" and the first paragraph of the book, and I was confused about what kind of story I could write with them. There is no such thing as a knight (Commendatore) in Japan, but I felt it was a foreign title and I welcomed this foreignness. li>

BingMag.com New Yorker’s interview with Haruki Murakami; A tour of an underground world

Do you care about the opera "Don Juan"?

Character is very important to me. I I generally don't use templates. In my career, I only used a template for a character once, he was a bad guy and I didn't like him and I wanted to write about him, but that was only once. I created all the other characters in my books from scratch. When I create a character, he moves automatically and all I have to do is watch him move and talk and do things. I am a writer and I write, but at the same time I feel like I am reading an interesting and exciting book. That's why I enjoy writing.

The main character of the book listens to opera and other pieces of music that you mentioned in the book. Most of your characters listen to a certain band or style of music. Does knowing who they are help you in your work?

I listen to music when I'm writing, so music naturally comes into my writing. I don't think much about the type of music, but music is like food for me and gives me energy to write. That's why I often write about music, and mostly about the music I like. It's good for my health!

When an excerpt from "To Kill a Brave Knight" was published in the New Yorker, I asked you about the fictional elements of the work. You said: "When I write a novel, reality and fantasy merge. This is not my intention and I do not pursue it, but the more I try to write realistically about reality, the more the unreal world emerges. For me, the novel is like a party, anyone can join and leave whenever they want. How do you invite people to this party?

Sometimes readers tell me that there is an unreal world in my work, but I can't always see the line between the real and the unreal. In many cases they are combined. I think that in Japan, the other world is very close to our real world and it is not too difficult if we decide to go to the other side, whereas in the West, it is not easy to go to the other world. For example, in my stories, if you go to the bottom of the well, it's a different world and you can't necessarily say that there is a difference between this side and that side.

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BingMag.com New Yorker’s interview with Haruki Murakami; A tour of an underground world

The other side is usually a dark place. Is it?

Not necessarily. I think it has more to do with curiosity. If there is a door and you can open it and go through it, you will. This is just curiosity. what is inside This is what I do every day. When I'm writing a novel, I wake up at 4 in the morning, sit at my desk and start working. This happens in the real world. I drink real coffee, but when I'm writing I go somewhere else. I open the door, go in there and see what's going on there. I don't know if this world is real or not. The more I focus on writing, it's like I'm going lower and lower in a basement. I encounter strange things when I am there. But when I see them, they seem natural to me. And if it's dark there, that darkness spreads to me and probably has a message. I am trying to understand that message. So I look at that world and describe what I see and then come back. Coming back is important, it's scary if you can't come back. But I'm a professional and I can come back.

Do you bring those things with you?

BingMag.com New Yorker’s interview with Haruki Murakami; A tour of an underground world

No, it's scary. I leave it at that. When I'm not writing, I'm a very ordinary person. I respect the daily routine. I wake up early in the morning and go to bed at 9 at night. I run and swim. I am an ordinary person. But when I'm walking down the street and someone says, "Excuse me, Mr. Murakami, I'm so glad to see you," I feel alienated. I'm not special, why is he happy to see me? But when I'm writing, I think I'm special or at least weird.

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How many times have you told this story that 40years ago while playing baseball, you accidentally thought you could write a novel, even though you had never even tried to write one before. And you wrote in your memoirs: "When I talk about running, what am I talking about: I felt something from The sky is falling and I held it in my hands." That thing was the ability to write. Where do you think it was coming from and if you are an ordinary person then why did it come to you?

It was a kind of manifestation. In 1978, when I was 29 years old, I went to the stadium to watch my favorite team play. I was watching the game when I felt I could write. Maybe I drank too much. Before that I had never written anything, I had a jazz club and I made sandwiches. But then From that game, I went to a stationery store and bought some supplies and started writing and became a writer.

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    I have changed a lot. When I started writing I didn't know how to write and I wrote in a weird way but people really liked it. Now my first book Listen to the song of the wind has become less important to me, it was too early to publish a book. Many years ago I was sitting on a train in Tokyo reading and a beautiful girl came up to me and said, "Are you Mr. Murakami?" "Yes, I'm Mr. Murakami" "I'm a fan of your books" "Thank you so much" "I've read all your books and I like them all, but I like your first book the most and I think it's the best It's your book, you failed."

    I'm used to criticism, but I don't agree with him. I think I've gotten better. Forty years I tried to get better and I think I have. That girl reminds me of a jazz musician named Jane Quayle. He was a saxophonist and like any other saxophonist he was influenced by Charlie Parker. One night he was performing at a jazz club in New York and as he left the stage a man walked up to him and said, Hey! All you do is impersonate Charlie Parker and play like him. Jane handed the man her saxophone and said, Come on. Come on, play like Charlie Parker."

    This story has three points: First, criticizing others is easy. Two, creating an original work is hard. Three, but one has to do it. I have been doing this for forty years and it is my job. Like someone who does what he has to do. Like a tax collector. So if someone gives me a hard time, I give him the instrument and say: "Shut up, shut up."

    You said that the subject of the first two books you wrote were very simple, and after that You wrote more complicated and it became more difficult for the audience to understand your next books. What challenges are you facing?

    BingMag.com New Yorker’s interview with Haruki Murakami; A tour of an underground worldWhen I read these first two books of mine, "Listen to the Song of the Wind" And I wrote Pinball. I found it easy to write, but I didn't feel satisfied with the books I had written. I am still not satisfied with them. After I wrote these first two books, I became more ambitious and followed up with The Wild Sheep Chase, which is my first long novel. It took 3 or 4 years to write this book, and I had to "dig a hole to reach the source" in order to flourish in writing, as I ironically and fictionally stated in this book. Therefore, I consider the book "Chasing the Wild Sheep" as the starting point of my writing career. During the first 3 years of my writing, I also worked as a music club owner. I would finish my work at 2:00 am and then I would write a book at the kitchen table. This amount of work was very heavy for me. After writing the first two books, I decided to sell the music club and fully devote my time to writing the book. Have you had any ideas to write? Have you ever sat down and couldn't write anything?

    I've never had this experience before. When I sit at the table I know what is going to happen. If I don't know or don't want to write something, I won't write. Magazines always ask me to write something and I always say no. I write when I feel like it, what I feel like, and how I feel like it. When you finish the novel and start writing your stories, like "A Talking Monkey" or "The Man Who Disappears in the Staircase," and you say, "Each story must have two or three of the items on the list," you always have this. How do you work?

    BingMag.com New Yorker’s interview with Haruki Murakami; A tour of an underground world

    This was when I wrote six stories at the same time and these keywords They helped me. They are not needed for the novel. My rule is to try something new every time. I wrote most of my first books in the first person. In 1Q84 I wrote three third person characters. Most of the time, my narrator and main character is someone I could be but am not. My kind of alternative. I am in my life and I cannot be anyone else, but in the story I can be anyone. I can put my foot in someone else's shoes. It can be said that it is a type of psychotherapy. If you are a writer, you are not fixed and you have the possibility to be anyone else.

    Buy the book "1Q84" from BingMag

    You once said that your dream in life is to sit at the bottom of a well. You have several characters that do exactly that. There is a character in To Kill a Mockingbird who does this. Why?

    I like wells very much. I have refrigerators I love. I like elephants. There are many things that I like. I am happy when I write about what I love. When I was a child there was a well in our house and I always looked into it and my imagination grew. Raymond Carver has a short story about falling down a dry well that I really like.

    Would you rather go down the well or come up?

    People often say this is a metaphor for the unconscious. But I'm very interested in the underground world.

    You said a few years ago in an interview with theParis Reviewthat the driving force behind your stories is "loss and searching and finding. Is it still the same?

    Yes. This is one of the main themes of my stories: losing something, looking for it and finding it. My characters are often searching for something that is missing. Sometimes it is a girl, sometimes it is a reason and sometimes it is a goal. Although they are looking for something important and critical, but when they find it, they are disappointed. I do not know why! But this is a motif in my story: searching for something and finding it, but it's not a happy ending.

    Your novels usually revolve around a puzzle, and sometimes you solve the puzzle, sometimes you solve it. You leave it unresolved. Is it because you like to leave things open for the reader or because you're not always sure of your solution?

    When I publish a book of fiction, some friends contact me They take it and ask: "What happens next?" "That was the end of it," I say. But people expect a sequel. After I published 1Q84 I had a lot of ideas about what happens next, and I could have written a sequel, but I didn't. I thought it might be like Jurassic Park 4 and Die Hard 8. I have kept that story in my mind and I enjoy it.

    Does your writing style show itself in the translation?

    Yes. I don't know why, but when I read my books in English, I feel myself. The rhythm and prose style is almost the same.

    Do you notice the things you learned from other writers echoing in your writing?

    BingMag.com New Yorker’s interview with Haruki Murakami; A tour of an underground world

    I think it has an effect. When I started writing, I had no guidance, no teacher, no literary colleagues and friends. I had only myself and learned many things from books. When I was a child, I loved reading books because I was an only child and had no siblings. I had books and cats and music. As a teenager I loved Russian novels: Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. And everything I learned from these books was more stable and better. In university, I had many classmates who wanted to be writers, but I didn't think I had the talent to write, so I started a club and music became my career.

    Buy the book "First Person Singular" from BingMag I would like to quote a part of the book To Kill a Brave Knight:

    The knight touches his beard as if he is remembering something. "Franz Kafka was fascinated by the slope," he said. He was drawn to all kinds of slopes and loved watching the houses built on the slopes. He would sit by the side of the street for hours and stare at the houses built on the slope and never get tired of it. Did you know this Kafka and Shib theorem? "No, I didn't know," I replied. I had never heard of it. "But does knowing this issue make us know the value of his works more?"

    If we know your strange habits (for example, your interest in (viewing domains) help us better appreciate the value of your work?

    Franz Kafka loved domains: This is a lie and I made this up. do you like it Chances are Franz Kafka would have loved domains.

    It's a story and you made it up. But what if it is real? For example, we know you love cats, does that make us understand your work better?

    Ask my wife.

    Does she, because she knows you, Does he know your works better [than us]?

    I don't know. He says I am not his favorite writer. But he always seriously criticizes my work. He's my first reader, and when I'm done, I give my wife the manuscript, she reads it, and she comes back with two hundred notes. I hate notes. He says, You need to rewrite these parts.

    When he says rewrite, do you do it?

    Yes. And then he reads it again and returns it with a hundred more notes. It's good that the notes are less!

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