Murakami's Magical Realism

wakarimasen

Journeyed there and back again
#1
Yeah. I've heard people say that Murakami's stuff isn't fantasy or that it is, or that it's something different.

Thing is, it sounds goooood. But where to start? I'd imagine that some are more fantastical or whimsical than others and I don't want to be put off someone I suspect I could really enjoy by taking the wrong first step.

What say you? Anyone got any thoughts on the giant of Japanese lit...?
 

Boreas

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#2
First, the collection The Elephant Vanishes. Then, the surreal science fiction-y/slipstream work Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.
 

ofer

Journeyed there and back again
#3
All of his books are standalones, you can start anywhere you like. It's not exactly fantasy, but there are fantasy elements in his books.
Out of the 2 or 3 I've read, I think Kafka on the Shore was my favorite.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#4
Wow, I just finished a book by Salman Rushdie (The Satanic Verses) which is written in the style of magical realism. I really liked it, although it's very weird and surreal. Does anyone know if Murakami is anything like Rushdie? How do these two authors compare? I'm asking, because I like Rushdie and this might put Murakami's works on my (ever-growing) TBR pile.
 

ofer

Journeyed there and back again
#5
Wow, I just finished a book by Salman Rushdie (The Satanic Verses) which is written in the style of magical realism. I really liked it, although it's very weird and surreal. Does anyone know if Murakami is anything like Rushdie? How do these two authors compare? I'm asking, because I like Rushdie and this might put Murakami's works on my (ever-growing) TBR pile.
Murakami's style is coherent and nowhere near as surreal or weird as The Satanic Verses. His books (the ones I read, anyway) are normal fiction with just a touch of weird/paranormal/surrealism about them and that's why I said that they're not fantasy but include some fantasy elements. Some of his protagonists are amusing but not to the point of funny - one of his books has a cat detective as the main character, for example. By all means, give him a go - his books are highly rated and I liked what I've read by him, although not to the point of saying "I've got to read anything by this author right now". As I said earlier, my favorite from him was Kafka by the Shore, but I think his most famous works are Norwegian Wood and 1Q84.
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#6
Murakami for me is one of those authors whose books I always come upon, look at them and think: "I should read that". And then I never do.
When I was a teen I loved the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but these days I don't think I want realism together with magic. I enjoy fantasy books way more.
 

Sparrow

Journeyed there and back again
#7
I wish I could help you, but I tried to read The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami and found it disconnected and intolerably whimsical.
I know where it comes from, I'm biased when it comes to Japanese literature. I just find Japanese Culture subtly abhorrent, and probably don't give Japanese writers much of a chance.

The Name of the Rose and The Island of the Day Before, by Umberto Eco are my kind of magical realism; where the hand of magic touches the story is never certain.