Haruki Murakami fans discussion

Favorite Murakami work?

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message 1: by Kelly (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:09AM) (new)

Kelly W (mirume) | 17 comments Mod
Let's start a first discussion, Murakami fans!

An appropriate first question: What's your favorite Haruki Murakami work, and why?

Mine is Sputnik Sweetheart, mostly because I love the way it plays with the ideas of alternate realities. Obviously many of his books do this, but I thought the way it's presented in Sputnik Sweetheart is especially haunting and beautiful. I also love the narration style, and the book's unconventional love triangle.

Kafka on the Shore is the first runner-up.

message 2: by Liliana (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:17AM) (new)

Liliana Blum (blumcita) | 1 comments I just met Murakami by chance, at an airport library. It was Kafka on the shore, the edition that you have as the group icon. I realized he would become on of my favorite authors as well. I just ordered several other Murakami books through Amazon.

message 3: by Conrad (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:18AM) (new)

Conrad | 1 comments I expect to be the only one to feel this way, but my favorite Murakami book is Underground, his only book in which most of the words belong to other people. It ties together a lot of different concerns of his very well, though: what he perceives as the conformist business culture of Japan, people's propensity for groupthinking their way into believing things that are clearly ridiculous, disappearances, employment and its discontents... He seems to be an excellent interviewer, but his own writing on the Aum Shunrikyo movement is also enlightening and scary. I read it shortly after 9/11, which may inform my opinion, but I found the testimony and stories of the ordinary people whose lives were abruptly rerouted by Aum Shinrikyo almost unbearably sad.

Second place, though, would have to be a tie - either Norwegian Wood or Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I think there are two different Murakamis, though - he has a fantasy mode and a realism mode and I'm finding it a little hard to compare the two.

message 4: by Tania (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:18AM) (new)

Tania | 1 comments I just finished reading After Dark, and liked it, but my all time favorite for sure is Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. It is the first book of Murakami's that I've ever read and it completely blew my mind. I would call it a life-changing experience, reading this book. I felt very bonded to Toru, and experienced his world in a very real way.

message 5: by EJ (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:19AM) (new)

EJ Having only read one of Murakami's books I can't compare. My book club read Kafka on the Shore and immediately I was hooked. Murakami's world is unlike any other author I have known. I look forward to following his career. Is there any specific book of his you all would recommend I read next?

message 6: by Marlo (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:19AM) (new)

Marlo | 2 comments I have only read Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and a book of his short stories (the name escapes me now). Neither were disappointing. Let me say that differently, both were astounding, beautiful and strange. Kafka on the Shore is my next. But if you like diving into his other-worldliness, I recommend Wind-Up Bird, it has the same effect.

message 7: by Marlo (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:19AM) (new)

Marlo | 2 comments I have only read Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and a book of his short stories (the name escapes me now). Neither were disappointing. Let me say that differently, both were astounding, beautiful and strange. Kafka on the Shore is my next. But if you like diving into his other-worldliness, I recommend Wind-Up Bird, it has the same effect.

message 8: by Frederick (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:19AM) (new)

Frederick I encountered Murakami while passing a bookstore window in London. I think this was in 1996, but, given my memory, it may have been four years later. Either way, the novel NORWEGIAN WOOD, in a boxed edition which, through the window, appeared to be made of wood, caught my eye. I'm a big Beatles fan and the fact that the title is the title of a Beatles song is one reason I paused before the window. But something told me the title was brilliant. It was audacious of him to name an entire novel after a song so closely identified with someone else's art. In the next few weeks I noticed Murakami had a story in THE NEW YORKER. It may or may not have had the title of another Beatles song as its title. He's done one or two. I read the story (which, I think, involved a trip to the zoo to see a polar bear) and found it the most moving story I'd read in years. Since that time I've read five or six stories of his. I have not read any of the novels, but, in all the years I worked at bookstores I read portions of his books.
He has an affinity for 60s-era Western pop culture. The result of this is I can latch on to the mood he intends to evoke. I've been raving about him for years and am very happy to see so many people seem to share my enthusiasm for this subtle master.

message 9: by Ami (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:22AM) (new)

Ami (amie_07) My first encounter with Murakami is "Norwegian Wood". My sister is his loyal fans (she majors Japanese literature so she reads everything by Murakami in the original Japanese language) so I continue reading "Sputnik Sweetheart" and "South of the Border ..." from her collection.

I love the way he writes. His characters always seem to connect with me. Even if the story counts as surrealist stories but I can't seem to stop once I read his work. He is by far, one of the best author and one of my favorites ever.

Although I love his older works, but I have to say that I'm amazed with his current ones. So, if I have choose a favorite, my favorite will be Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. I think that book is brilliant. The way he switched one chapter to another from the wonderland and end of the world point of view was flawless.

message 10: by JBP (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:24AM) (new)

JBP Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Thankfully, I had read 4 or 5 other Murakami and was ready for this one...I just think it's his most complete novel that is so engrossing it can affect your dreams. It's hard for a book to invade my life so much that I'm dreaming about being in it or characters show up in my dream world. I really like particular others but The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle just does it for me.

message 11: by JBP (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:24AM) (new)

JBP Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Thankfully, I had read 4 or 5 other Murakami and was ready for this one...I just think it's his most complete novel that is so engrossing it can affect your dreams. It's hard for a book to invade my life so much that I'm dreaming about being in it or characters show up in my dream world. I really like particular others but The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle just does it for me.

message 12: by Alex (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:38AM) (new)

Alex | 20 comments My favorites are "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World" and "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles." These are two masterpieces of modern fiction in my opinion. Murakami has such a clear and utterly unique voice, without ever 'forcing it.' What's unsettling is how easy it is to relate to his characters as they try to navigate the borderland between mundane 'reality' and the dream world. Part of Murakami's genius is that this 'borderland,' which is obviously just the invention of one writer, feels like common property, a place the reader has already been before but discovers anew as the reading goes on.

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

I am surprised at the lack of mention of "The Wild Sheep Chase". I will always love this one because it was my first. It is really hard to pick one Murakami that is my *favorite*... I love anything by him.

message 14: by joanna (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:40AM) (new)

joanna | 2 comments The Wild Sheep Chase was also the first I read and it's still my favorite, mainly because of the humor. I'd have to say it's one of the funniest books I've ever read. The humor isn't an overlay. It doesn't undercut the unnerving tone, or do anything to impede the constant onslaught of uncanniness. It's part of all that, and for me it made the story that much more haunting and disturbing.
I should add that I've only read two other Murakami novels so far, Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World (which I liked a lot) and The Wind-up Bird Chronicles. Not sure what to read next.

message 15: by Syd (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:40AM) (new)

Syd | 1 comments So far, I have to say Kafka on the Shore is my favorite. It was the kind of book in which the characters came to mean so much to me that I missed them when I finished the book.

message 16: by Chilly (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:41AM) (new)

Chilly SavageMelon (chillysavagemelon) Lookie here now, chillins... I ain't even TRYIN' to pick a favorite Murakami, as he so solidly delivers each and every time - each s story, novel, I bet even his bathroom graffiti is brilliant, assuming he might do such a thing. In fact, I intentionally don't plow through all of his work quickly to save myself "guarenteed good reads" in the future. I like knowing about mine shafts in which golden ingots lie, for the sake of future mining. Why pilage the entire mountain in a rush?

As a side tangent: I've just delved into David Mitchell's "Ghostwritten" (shame on me Alex for taking so long to follow through on this recomendation) and am trying to explore what about it strikes me as 'so Murakami'. True, I'm not finished yet, and this impression may be vague and premature, but still... It might just be the narrator of the Tokyo chapter. The young man truely seems like a Murakami export: working in the jazz record store, adopted by Mama-san, ennui over his blood line but pampered by escort girls and thug types. Perhaps it is an intentional homage- Anyone?

message 17: by Alex (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:41AM) (new)

Alex | 20 comments for joanna,
'Not sure what to read next...'

I'd be tempted to suggest 'Dance Dance Dance' as it's a sort of sequel to 'Wild Sheep Chase,' and the protagonist is very much akin to those pure-hearted wise-asses who lead in 'Wonderland' and 'Chronicles.' But if you want to go in a slightly different direction there's 'Norwegian Wood.' It may lack much of Murakami's trademark flights into 'unreality' but delivers on every other level, with plenty of humor and existential pathos, and some of the finest characterizations you're likely to read in modern fiction.

message 18: by Christine (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:42AM) (new)

Christine Wow, that is a tough question. My first instinct is to say "The Wind Up Bird Chronicle" - I do think that's his masterpiece, his most accomplished work and the one that most successfully brings together all those wonderful Murakami elements we all know and love. But like several of you the first novel of his I ever read was "The Wild Sheep Chase" and I was completely blown away. "Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World" was just insane, and I think his most difficult to understand, but worth it in the end.
In the interests of full disclosure I have to say I've strayed from the path and haven't read either of his two most recent works...
So... favorite? I have to go with my gut and say "The Wild Sheep Chase."

message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Okay...first...i am sooooo happy that there is a group for Murakami!

second...I am working my way to trying to read everything he has written (I have a ways to go)... so I can only state which book is my favorite out of the several that I have read. They are: (favorite to least favorite, but still love)

A Wild Sheep Chase
The Elephant Vanishes
Kafka on the Shore
After the Quake
Dance Dance Dance
Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman...

I really am excited to keep reading all the rest of his books, I just wish that there weren't other authors that I want to read as well...

message 20: by Josh (new)

Josh | 3 comments I go two ways on Murakami. Having covered the bulk of his catalog, he has two modes: the hard-boiled metaphysical, and the tender romantic (and, sure, they cross-pollinate at times). When it comes to the metaphysical, he can't go wrong. "Wind-Up Bird" is genius, followed closely by "Kafka," "Wild Sheep," and a good number of his short stories. However, I find his romance ("Norwegian Wood," "South of the Border..." totally unpalatable. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that something has been lost in translation and that he doesn't sound so sappy in Japanese, but I can't, in good conscience, recommend that part of his catalog, unless you can read him in his own language. Some people call his prose musical. I don't hear it. In fact, one thing I love about him is the flatness of his language. Please, if someone has read him in Japanese, let me know how it reads on the sentence level.

message 21: by Christi (new)

Christi (christi_r_suzanne) | 5 comments Has anyone read his newest book? After Dark? I am finishing it right now. It's not one of my favorites, but I'm glad I read it. I seems to have lost of of his thoughtfulness and pacing.

message 22: by Jeannine (new)

Jeannine | 3 comments Dear Paige,
I think if you read the book as an extended metaphor containing the two internal psyches of a Sleeping Beauty/Snow White Character - the wounded beautiful victim and the strong, smart, capable woman who wants to be part of the world - the book becomes more coherent and the symbolism makes a lot of sense. At least that's how I read it, and I was very impressed.

message 23: by Elise (last edited Dec 27, 2007 08:41PM) (new)

Elise | 1 comments I absolutely loved Underground, it was so simple and non-sensational, and I find that I never think I will enjoy one of his short story collections as much as I inevitably do.
I have to say that Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Dance Dance Dance are my two favorites - there's something so poignant and beautiful about the ending in the latter, and they're both such basic good reads. I should reread them.

message 24: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony I read "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" last spring, while in the middle of a huge project at work, and within the first hundred pages I got that amazing "this is one of the most important books I have ever read" senses. I think one of the keys is letting go of the "I have to understand everything immediately" trap and letting the book flow naturally. TWUBC (am I allowed to abbreviate titles?:) is my favorite Murakami, with "Kafka on the Shore" a close second. I still have a few to read, so I might change my mind over time.

message 25: by Danielle (new)

Danielle (danie) | 1 comments It's a tie for me between Kafka on the Shore and Wild Sheep Chase for full-length novels, and definitely After the Quake for collection of short stories. I love the feeling that Murakami has the ability to induce of experiencing a bad dream that you don't want to wake up from. It's a sensation I've never before experienced while reading anything else.
For those who like Underground, I recommend a documentary called A. It is a Japanese film that follows members of Aum Shinrikyo, the group responsible for the Tokyo sarin gas attacks. It provides an interesting perspective that, much like Underground, re-introduces the horrific attack at the individual level--a place so often left behind.

message 26: by kkurtz (new)

kkurtz | 1 comments it is hard to pick just one. nearly impossible in fact. I always find my self saying 'this one is great, but then so is this one' in a completely different way. I'm partial to Hard Boiled Wonderland, because it was my first, but (see there it is) Wind Up Bird Chronicle is amazing...but (again) Dance, Dance, Dance is unparalleled...but
(oh, just give it up)Kafka on the Shore is a recent masterpiece.
it really is impossible to choose w/o including a

as an aside...the film 2046 is the closest I've seen to capturing Murakami's style in film. check it out.

message 27: by Hertzan (new)

Hertzan Chimera (hertzanchimera) you REALLY have to see Tony Takitani. It's stylish, and poignant and true Murakami looseness at its best (and I love 2046).

message 28: by Hertzan (new)

Hertzan Chimera (hertzanchimera) my first (and still the best) Murakami novel was A WILD SHEEP CHASE. I'd just read An Elephant Vanishes (I always start with a short story collection from a new writer) and couldn't resist the allure of a continued animal theme.


message 29: by William (new)

William Graney | 29 comments Norwegian Wood is my favorite. It seems to be the one most criticized by both the pro and anti-Murakami crowds but it resonates with me. The lack of supernatural influences seems very off-putting to some but the whole tone of the book affects me in a way that inspires me to keep coming back to it. There are very few books that I've read more than once but I read Norwegian Wood on a yearly basis.

message 30: by Dean (new)

Dean | 10 comments My first Murakami book was "Hardboiled Wonderland..." and in some ways it is still my favorite. I was working in a bookstore and literaly bought the book completely blind because I had never even heard of him at the time. It was very different from almost anything else I had ever read and drew me in instantly. That was in '97 and I jumped in full tilt to reading everything else he had in translation at the time. I've at least liked, if not loved, everything else by him but a close second to Hardboiled would have to be "Wind-Up Bird..." and "Kafka On The Shore" close behind that.

message 31: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Reichard | 4 comments Dean,

I went to see a theatrical production of Elephant Vanishing and loved it. Became intrigued and picked up Wind Up Bird, I like it but am not wowed. Should I start with something else?

message 32: by Dean (new)

Dean | 10 comments If that story is a favorite then I would highly recommend Kafka On The Shore or A Wild Sheep Chase. Norwegian Wood is a story that I think is much more accessible to readers who are not as familiar with Mr Murakami's work.

message 33: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Reichard | 4 comments Thanks, I'll look into those. Actually the production I saw was based on a series of short stories, Elephant Vanishing was the title of the show.

message 34: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (glinda) | 3 comments I've read all the Murakami I could get my hands on and I still think Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is my fav. I agree that it was a life-changing experience.

message 35: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (glinda) | 3 comments I adored both Hard-Boiled and Wind-Up. I think I liked Wind-Up better but that may be because it was my first Murakami.

message 36: by Dan (new)

Dan (-dinny-) | 5 comments My favourite Murakami work so far (I have read Hard Boiled Wonderland, After Dark, Kafka on the Shore, Wind Up Bird Chronicle and am halfway through The Elephant Vanishes) would have to be a toss up between Wind Up Bird and Kafka. The overall feeling of his writing is addictive and it oozes from all his work, but in these two I found ideas that really captivated me. The fact that Toru climbs down into the well and sits there was great. I love the way Murakami deals with these niche life choices. And the Nakata plotline in Kafka, particularly the early stages, where he sits in the abandoned house lot and then meets Johnny Walker. I loved the flow of those parts. Nakata just shades it for me, due to the dealing with the talkative side of felines and how it is believably portrayed (somehow).


message 37: by Sharron (new)

Sharron | 1 comments I just finished The Wind-up Bird Chronicle and since it is the only Murakami work I've read it's my favorite. But I will be reading more. I absolutely loved this book, it's my favorite of all those read this year. Thanks for all the posts as it gives me an idea of what to read next.

message 38: by Matthew (last edited Nov 03, 2008 03:49AM) (new)

Matthew Travers (notdarkyet) | 4 comments Joined this group just a second ago, because I just began "Norwegian Wood," but I've read a number of his books, and loved each and every one of them. Happened upon him by chance, and, truth be told, because of a video game (Metal Gear Solid 2). The first novel I read, the one that was referenced, was "A Wild Sheep Chase," which pleasantly surprised me with its surreal, yet affecting plot, and I literally went out and bought every book he had in print at the nearest Borders, only three of which I think I've yet to read (including the present).

After 'Sheep', "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World." This instantly became one of my favorite books, and is to this day potentially the most original story I've ever read. I've been through a bunch of his other works, as can be seen on one of the shelves, but 'Wonderland' or "Dance Dance Dance" are probably my favorites (although this may be partially because I didn't want to parrot everyone raving about Kafka and Bird, which were also amazing).

message 39: by Steve (last edited Nov 05, 2008 08:19PM) (new)

Steve | 9 comments I'd have to say Hard-Boiled Wonderland with A Wild Sheep Chase as a close second. The Sheep Man is one of my favorite Murakami characters so I'm really looking forward to Dance Dance Dance.

Wind-Up was my first Murakami, so I don't think I had developed a full appreciation for him at that point. I'll definitely re-read it at some point.

While I enjoyed after the quake, I still prefer his novels.

Just started Kafka on the Shore...

message 40: by Zan (new)

Zan (zankini) | 6 comments Oooh, you're in for a treat! Dance Dance Dance is awesome awesome awesome! It's my favorite. In fact, I think I'll go reread it now.


message 41: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Courtney | 1 comments It would have to be "Norweigan Wood" as this was the first Murakami novel I read. Although he's just so fantastic it is hard to pick just one!

message 42: by Christina Stind (new)

Christina Stind | 11 comments I can't pick a favourite since I've only read 'Kafka on the Shore'. I loved that book so much - it was amazing all the way through. Because of that I've bought 'After Dark' and 'The Wind-up Bird Chronicle' and gotten my boyfriend to read 'After Dark' (he liked it a lot!). I'm looking forward to reading more by him soon!

message 43: by Shimin Wei (new)

Shimin Wei | 1 comments I completely agree on the 2 types of genre writing Murakami engages in.. For the metaphysical category, my fav is 'Hard-boiled Wonderland'. It just blew my mind when I read it. And for the realist-romantic category, it's 'Norwegian Wood'. It seemed to relate the story of my life. Acted like my bible for some time. Not that his other books didn't keep me living in his created worlds while I read them, just that these 2 stood out personally for me.

I'm currently reading 'Birthday Stories', a collection that he compiled and edited. So far, rather intriguing.

The only disappointment has been 'After Dark'. It was rather short and not deep enough at all. Probably coz it's more like a novelette. But I'm quite let down, given how I love all his other work.

message 44: by Kim (new)

Kim (ktran29) | 5 comments The first time that I read Kafka on the Shore, I wasn't absolutely impressed. I have always leaned more towards his romantic writings and Kafka didn't seem to strike me in any fundamental way. When I recently returned to Kafka (after being inspired from seeing an adaptation of it for the stage by Frank Galati) it has become one of my favorites. I really appreciate the Greek tones that work their way throughout the book especially because they go further than the Oedipus myth into the (I believe) much more interesting mother-daughter relationship that appears more prevalently in the Antigone myth. Absolutely mindblowing. And to sprinkle that in so seamlessly with the past/present day Japan is simply beautiful.

message 45: by Dan (new)

Dan (-dinny-) | 5 comments http://theblastedfrench.deviantart.co...

merry christmas all you murakami fans!

message 46: by William (new)

William Graney | 29 comments I agree with you about Norwegian Wood.
In other news; I received an e-mail from Amazon today recommending the Murakami book Tokio Blues. I hadn't heard of that title but with a little investigating I discovered it's the Spanish language version of Norwegian Wood.

message 47: by William (new)

William Graney | 29 comments Hi!
Yes, I liked After Dark but it didn't stick with me as much as some of the others like Wind Up Bird and Wild Sheep Chase.

message 48: by Jim (new)

Jim | 4 comments How does KAFKA ON THE SHORE rate among Murakami's books?
just started listening to it

message 49: by William (new)

William Graney | 29 comments People seem to have mixed emotions about it. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

message 50: by Mark (new)

Mark | 7 comments Kafka is not only my favorite Murakami, it's my favorite book of all time. I think this is because even though it's very grounded in the physical world, it remains one of the least concrete in terms of explanations about what's going on metaphysically.

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