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The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami

2014
Author:

Matthew Carl Strecher

The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami

A journey through the mysterious metaphysical realm where Haruki Murakami’s strangest characters lurk, bizarre scenes unfold, and dark secrets emerge

Fervently acclaimed worldwide, Haruki Murakami’s wildly imaginative work in many ways remains a mystery, its worlds within worlds uncharted territory. Finally in The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami readers will find a map to the strange realm that grounds virtually every aspect of Murakami’s writing, exposing the psychological and mythological underpinnings of this other world.

In a masterful synthesis, Matthew Strecher delves deeply into questions of language, religion, mythology, psychology, and the boundaries between literature and journalism to demonstrate with great clarity and concreteness how Murakami belongs in the company of such writers as Pynchon, Eco, and Rushdie.

Jay Rubin, author of Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words

In an “other world” composed of language—it could be a fathomless Martian well, a labyrinthine hotel, or forest—a narrative unfolds, and with it the experiences, memories, and dreams that constitute reality for Haruki Murakami’s characters and readers. Memories and dreams in turn conjure their magical counterparts—people without names or pasts, fantastic animals, half-animals, and talking machines that traverse the dark psychic underworld of this writer’s extraordinary fiction.

Fervently acclaimed worldwide, Murakami’s wildly imaginative work in many ways remains a mystery, its worlds within worlds uncharted territory. Finally in this book readers will find a map to the strange realm that grounds virtually every aspect of Murakami’s writing. A journey through the enigmatic and baffling innermost mind, a metaphysical dimension where Murakami’s most bizarre scenes and characters lurk, The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami exposes the psychological and mythological underpinnings of this other world. Matthew Carl Strecher shows how these considerations color Murakami’s depictions of the individual and collective soul, which constantly shift between the tangible and intangible but in this literary landscape are undeniably real.

Through these otherworldly depths The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami also charts the writer’s vivid “inner world,” whether unconscious or underworld (what some Japanese critics call achiragawa, or “over there”), and its connectivity to language. Strecher covers all of Murakami’s work—including his efforts as a literary journalist—and concludes with the first full-length close reading of the writer’s newest novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.

The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami

Matthew Carl Strecher is associate professor of Japanese language, literature, and culture at Winona State University. He is the author of Dances with Sheep: The Quest for Identity in the Fiction of Haruki Murakami and Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Reader’s Guide.

The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami

In a masterful synthesis, Matthew Strecher delves deeply into questions of language, religion, mythology, psychology, and the boundaries between literature and journalism to demonstrate with great clarity and concreteness how Murakami belongs in the company of such writers as Pynchon, Eco, and Rushdie.

Jay Rubin, author of Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words

This guide clearly synthesizes the inner world enshrining Haruki Murakami’s characters.

World Literature Today

Strecher’s latest book is erudite without being overly academic. A lively and engaging read.

The Japan Times

Strecher neatly maps out the impression the young Murakami made on the hidebound world of Japanese literature and its overarching literary guild, one entrenched by respect, routine, and what literature ought to do.

Pop Matters

An original and insightful book - a genuine pleasure to read.

H-Net

Useful for providing frames through which to read Murakami and for a detailed overview of his work.

CHOICE

This well-researched monograph not only contributes to deepening our understanding of Murakami’s work, but, more importantly, Strecher reaffirms the bottomless possibilities to enjoy reading this author’s stories.

Asian Studies Review

Like its subject, Strecher’s book does not offer an overall master map to this world but rather presents us with a variety of intriguing ideas to ponder and to provoke us toward our own interpretations of this tantalizing, multifaceted author.

Journal of Japanese Studies

The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami

Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments

Introduction: The Power of the “Story”

1. New Words, New Worlds
2. Into the Mad, Metaphysical Realm
3. Gods and Oracles, Fate and Mythology
4. Murakami Haruki as Literary Journalist
5. Forbidden Dreams from “Over There”

Epilogue: The Roads Not Taken

Notes
Bibliography
Index

The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami

UMP blog | Return to the Enchanted Forest: 'Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage'

There are different kinds of Murakami fans, and some are going to like this book more than others.