Murakami is undoubtedly one of the finest writers of our generation, and deserves a place on everyone’s bookshelf. Today we have selected 7 best books by Haruki Murakami. His novels are usually existential ones, with his protagonists setting forth in quest to find their identity and the meaning of their lives. Infused with this is a lot of magical realism – fantastic elements in an otherwise realistic world. This magical realism often manifests usually in alternate worlds and realities, or fantastic happenings in the real world. Anyway, the result is a real psychological quest for identity is enhanced by a dreamlike, ethereal atmosphere.
7 Best Books by Haruki Murakami:
This is the only one of Murakami’s books which makes no use of magical realism. It is a straightforward story about a boy in love with a girl with mental health issues. The death of a common best friend interrupts mutual passion of the couple is, with psychological and philosophical ramifications.
Kafka on the Shore
The protagonist of this book, Kafka, leaves his home under the prophesy of an Oedipal complex – his dad declares that he will come together with both his mother and sister. In an effort to thwart it, he runs away and finds refuge in a library. The owner of the library is an older woman, with whom Kafka has a brief affair, fulfilling the prophesy. Overcome by guilt, he runs away into a cabin in the woods, where he enters an alternate dimension where everything is upside down.
Men Without Women
This is a collection of short stories unified by a single theme – the protagonists are all men without women. In the titular story, a married man receives a phone call about the death of his former lover. And in ‘Yesterday’, there exists a love triangle between two friends and one of their girlfriends. In ‘Samsa in Love’, Kafka’s Metamorphosis is reversed, and a beetle turns into a human.
The events of this mood piece unfold over the course of a single night. We follow an omniscient narrator as hovers through Tokyo in the dark, giving us snippets of the lives of different people. A teen band player strikes an unexpected friendship with a girl in the bar. And a girl who has been sleeping for the past month enters a new world. Then, there’s a man who controls the movement through a high tech device. A prostitute is battered and the admin staff of a ‘love hotel’ takes charge.
This is the story of an aspiring writer, Sumire who is in love with a woman seventeen years older than her, Miu. Miu is as glamorous and successful as Sumire is messy, clumsy and un-fashionable. But when Sumire mysteriously vanishes, Miu calls Sumire’s best friend and the unnamed narrator, to help her figure out what’s wrong.
South of the Border, West of the Sun
The narrator of this book, Hajime, is a married man who encounters his childhood sweetheart while running is jazz bar. This unexpected meeting rattles the peace in Hajime’s life, and leads him back into the tumult of his childhood. Reminiscing over the afternoons spent listening to record collections, a love brims between the two. But the outcome will be disastrous for everyone involved.
Set in 1984, this book heavily alludes to George Orwell’s allegorical masterpiece set in the same year. We follow a woman named Aomame, who realizes there are some obvious discrepancies in the world around her and the world she previously lived in. Soon she realizes she has entered an alternate dimension, 1Q84, where Q stands for a question mark. On the other hand, a writer named Tengo takes up a ghost-writing project just as his life comes undone. Their lives converge in unexpected ways, leading to dreamlike and surreal happenings.
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