Haruki Murakami Biography


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Born in Kyoto in 1949, Haruki Murakami spent most of his youth in Kobe. Both his father and mother taught Japanese literature, igniting a passion for literature early on in their son. Murakami’s father was also a Buddhist priest (meditations on religion and spirituality are key themes in Murakami’s work), and his mother was the daughter of a merchant. Murakami showed an affinity for Western culture from an early age, particularly Western literature and music. His favorite writers were Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan, and his favorite musicians were the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Radiohead, Charlie Parker, and countless jazz and classical musicians, particularly Ludwig van Beethoven. Murakami graduated from Waseda University in Tokyo in 1973, where he studied theater arts, and his first job was at a record store. Just before graduating, Murakami opened a coffeehouse (which served as a jazz bar in the evenings) called Peter Cat in Okobunji, Tokyo, with his wife, Yoko. He is a collector of vinyl records, a full-marathon runner and triathlete, and obsessed with cats (all interests that weigh heavily on his fiction).

Murakami did not start writing until he was twenty-nine years old. Legend has it that he was attending a baseball game in Tokyo when he had a revelation regarding writing. Murakami suddenly realized that he was capable of writing a book after seeing American ballplayer Dave Hilton (playing for the Hiroshima Carps) hit a double. Murakami started working...

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(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Haruki Murakami (mur-ah-kah-mee) was born on January 12, 1949, in Koyto, Japan. The family moved two years later to Ashiya, a suburb of the port city Kobe, where his parents taught Japanese literature. An only child, Murakami was rebellious, an attitude that led to his estrangement from his parents when he was twenty. Considering Japanese literature boring, young Murakami became obsessed with American popular culture. He studied English in school and eagerly bought American paperbacks that Kobe’s used book stores acquired from servicemen. He was especially fond of the hard-boiled mysteries of Raymond Chandler and Ed McBain, drawn to the lonely but independent lives of their antiheroes.

Murakami studied film and drama at Tokyo’s Waseda University beginning in 1968. Because of disruptions created by the student protests of the era and financial difficulties, Murakami did not graduate until 1975, writing his thesis on the journey motif in American films.

Murakami had hoped to become a writer but felt he did not have the necessary life experiences. Instead, he and his wife, Yoko Takahashi, a fellow student he married in 1971, opened the Peter Cat, a café during the day and a jazz club at night, located on the outskirts of Tokyo. Murakami made sandwiches and served drinks while live or recorded music played. He became a devotee of American jazz after he was given a ticket to a concert by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers as a fifteenth birthday...

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(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Haruki Murakami stands out not just among Japanese novelists but all fiction writers of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries for his distinctive, highly accessible, contemplative style, with a rhythm similar to music. Surrealistic passages help give his fiction a dreamlike quality. As with the narrator in his well in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Murakami’s characters confront the chaos of contemporary life not by panicking but by ruminating over its vicissitudes. If they wait calmly, a solution to their dominant problem may arise. If no such resolution appears, they simply go on. Murakami puts a nonjudgmental, postmodern spin on the quiet desperation of ordinary lives.


Haruki Murakami, born January 12, 1949, in Kyoto, is one of Japan’s most popular contemporary authors. Although he has never won any of Japan’s more prestigious literary prizes nor been accepted into the elite literary circles of Japan’s distinguished authors, he has won a faithful audience both in Japan and internationally.

Both of Murakami’s parents taught literature, so he came to a love of books naturally. Much of the literature Murakami read was by Western authors. When it came time for college, Murakami chose to attend Tokyo’s Waseda University where he majored in theater arts. He loves music, especially classical and jazz. This lead him to open a jazz bar called Peter Cat before he was out of college. The bar was successful and Murakami worked there until he was able to make a living as a writer. He was married by then to a woman called Yoko, whom he had met in college. The couple spent many years traveling through Europe and the United States while Murakami continued to write.

Murakami’s first novel was published when he was twenty-nine. It was called Hear the Wind Sing (1979). Three years later, Murakami’s Wild Sheep Chase (1982), a book about post–World War II Japan, brought him critical acclaim. Then in 1997, with the English version of Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, Murakami won a large international audience. This novel covers familiar Murakami themes and establishes his style. His narrator in this novel explores Japanese involvement in World War II, especially in Manchuria (part of China), simultaneously weaving in and out of dreamscapes that he attempts to manipulate. The author’s 2006 translation of Kafka on the Shore won Murakami the 2006 Franz Kafka Prize, one of the more prestigious awards of his career.


(Short Stories for Students)

Haruki Murakami Published by Gale Cengage

Haruki Murakami was born on January 12, 1949 in Ashiya City, Japan, a suburb of Kobe. The son of two high-school Japanese literature...

(The entire section is 457 words.)