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Haruki Murakami and His Books: The Interesting Facts You Need to Know

Haruki Murakami and His Books: The Interesting Facts You Need to Know

Haruki Murakami is a world-renowned novelist who has been hailed as a literary magician, a genius in his craft. In recent years, Murakami has been tipped as a Nobel Prize contender. He has a distinct magical-realist style that touches the inner core of humanity. He creates novels that speak a strong message to their readers and leave a lasting impact.

One may find it difficult to pick the best Haruki Murakami books. If you know a few of his novels or if you are just starting to explore his works, here’s an interesting compilation that you need to see.

Haruki Murakami and His Award-Winning Books

Hear the Wind Sing

His first novel, Hear the Wind Sing, won him the Gunzou Literature Prize for budding writers in 1979.  It originally appeared in the June 1979 issue of Gunzo before its book was released the next month.

Find a copy of Haruki Murakami’s first two novels in a two-in-one book featuring Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball. Check it out here.

A Wild Sheep Chase

The 3rd novel of Murakami won the Norna Literary Prize. It was first published in Japan in 1982 and was translated into English in 1989. It also forms part of the "Trilogy of the Rat" with Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball as the other two novels.


Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

This 1985 Haruki Murakami novel won the Tanizaki Prize. It is a critically acclaimed book domestically and internationally. An English version of this novel was released in 1991.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

A recipient of the Yomiuri Literary Award for best novel, this is one of the most distinguished Murakami books. It is regarded as the author’s masterpiece and also made its appearance in The Telegraph's 2014 list of the 10 all-time greatest Asian novels.

Underground

This Haruki Murakami book captures the side of the 1995 Aum Shinrikyo sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway that the media failed to cover. It is intriguing and critical but still well-received and has even earned the Kuwabara Takeo Prize.

Kafka on the Shore

A recipient of the World Fantasy Award for 2006, this book exhibits Murakami’s blend of suspense, humor, magical realism, and popular culture that are typical of his works. Kafka on the Shore also has an increased emphasis on Japanese religious traditions.

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

This novel is a collection of 24 short stories written by Haruki Murakami from 1980 to 2005. It is his first collection of short stories in English. In 2006, this novel also won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award.

TRIVIA: The 2007 Kiriyama Prize for Fiction was awarded to Murakami for his collection of short stories featured in the Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman. However, due to his personal principle, the award-winning author declined to accept the award.

Aside from his prized books, Haruki Murakami also bagged some prestigious recognitions including the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award which is given to living authors whose works are similar to that of Hans Christian Andersen. In 2018, he was also given the America Award in Literature in recognition of his lifetime contribution to international writing.

Adaptations of Haruki Murakami Books

Aside from the awards that have been awarded to several Murakami books, there are also adaptations of his novels that have been turned into films or stage plays.

Film Adaptations of Haruki Murakami Books:

  • The novel Hear the Wind Sing (Kaze no Uta o kike) has been adapted by Japanese director Kazuki Ōmori into a film that was released in 1981.

  • Two short films directed by Naoto Yamakawa, Attack on the Bakery (1982) and A Girl, She is 100 Percent (1983) were both adaptations of Murakami's short stories "Bakery Attack" and "On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning." 

  • Another short story from the author, "Tony Takitani,” has been adapted into a 75-minute film feature by Japanese director Jun Ichikawa and has graced various film festivals. The adaptation was also released in New York and Los Angeles on July 29, 2005. 

  • The Haruki Murakami book The Second Bakery Attack also has its film adaptation. The German film, The Polar Bear (German: Der Eisbär), written and directed by Granz Henman, has some of its elements in its storylines. 

  • In 2008, the film adaptation of  "On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning" was released and screened at the 2008 CON-CAN Movie Festival. 

  • French-Vietnamese Tran Anh Hung directed an adaptation of the novel Norwegian Wood which was released in Japan on December 11, 2010.

  • The film Burning by director Lee Chang-dong was adapted from The Elephant Vanishes. It has been awarded the FIPRESCI International Critics’ Prize for best film and received the highest score to date. In 2019, it was submitted to the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film.

Stage Adaptations of Haruki Murakami Books:

The Elephant Vanishes, a stage play in 2003 co-produced by Britain's Complicite company and Japan's Setagaya Public Theatre, is an adaptation of three of Murakami's short stories. The stage play was performed in Japanese with supertitle translations for American and European audiences. It has been well received and recognized for its unique blending of multimedia with actor-driven physical theater. 

After the Quake is a stage play that has been derived from two short stories from the Haruki Murakami book After The Quake such as "Honey Pie" and "Superfrog Saves Tokyo." It was first performed at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in association with La Jolla Playhouse. The stage play adaptation opened on October 12, 2007, at Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

Kafka on the Shore also had its stage play adaptation when Galati adapted and directed its theatrical version in 2008. The production first ran at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago from September to November.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is another Haruki Murakami book that has been adapted into a two-hour multimedia stage presentation. Directed by Stephen Earnhart, it opened on January 12, 2010, as part of the Public Theater's Under the Radar festival at the Ohio Theater in New York City. It also had its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Festival on August 21, 2011.


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Most, if not all, Haruki Murakami books are great and worthy of recognition. If you are a fan of the author or want to start collecting his books, you can check out Fully Booked’s wide selection of his novels. Order now to know why Murakami gained worldwide acclaim and why the award-winning author is worthy of being a Nobel Prize contender.




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