Haruki Murakami Audio Books

May 17, 2011

In 2008 the Sunday Times postulated that Haruki Murakami was arguably “the most successful and influential cult author in the world”.

What are his books like and how good are they to listen to?

Well the first thing to say is that his work encourages disagreements. Some people love him whilst others hate him.

Here are five common themes which run through his work:

  1. His stories have large sections of mundane details interspersed with extraordinary ideas and tales.
  2. The hero is always a laid back young man, usually without a job and not fazed or worried by the commercial world.
  3. The love interest comes from troubled women who often die or vanish.
  4. Cats reappear throughout his work and with them come unexpected and exotic events.
  5. The endings are usually an anticlimax. They are never neat and clean and you are usually left wondering about the meaning of it all.

Let’s talk about the audio books and we will cover in them in the same sequence that they were listened to:

a. Kafka on the Shore. A strange and drab start with little idea as to where the story was heading. However after the first hour or so you will find yourself drawn into the tale and when cats start to talk you will find it quite normal. Good characters and plenty of subplots.

b. The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. This is a long audio book spread over 3 sections. Some of the writing is riveting and you are introduced to Japanese Mongolia during WW2 and what it is like to live at the bottom of a well. You will meet Nutmeg and Cinnamon, two brilliantly drawn characters, and wish that the book was twice the length. For me this was a brilliant audio book.

c. A Wild Sheep Chase. I started this audio book with high expectations. Whilst, in my opinion, it wasn’t as good as the wind up bird it is still a good if rather implausible story. Importantly it will introduce you to the Dolphin hotel and this magical place will reappear in “Dance, Dance, Dance”.

d. Norwegian Wood. Arguably his most famous work. But for me I couldn’t get into this story and stopped listening half way through. The story was adequate but to me it missed the flights of imagination which were so staggering in his other works.

e. Dance, Dance, Dance. A follow on from “a wild sheep chase” with the title coming from the Beach Boys song. Great story line with charming characters. Well worth it.

f. Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. The plot seemed inspired and was split into two halves which would eventually join at the end. The “real world” half was satisfactory and similar to a Harrison Ford film with plenty of unrealistic action. It was pleasant but I didn’t hurry to get back to it.

The “imaginary world” half was lyrical and beautifully crafted. It brought to light a world which seemed to glow beyond the edge of your sight. It was like a hot bath which you could gently slide into and pass away half an hour in peace and wonder.

In Conclusion:

Perhaps it was too much to hope that all the stories would entrance in the same way but at the end of it all these are good books and well read. He offers a gentle world of mysterious events, gentle women and magic.

This article was written by Mike Holly who has been exploring luxury cottages around Hadrian’s Wall.

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