Happy Birthday, Haruki Murakami!
Friday, January 12th, 2018
Born in Kyoto, Japan, in 1949, Murakami initially had no aspirations to become a writer. He studied drama at Waseda University in Tokyo, but after graduation, he and his wife opened a successful coffee house and jazz bar, and, as he told interviewer John Wesley Harding in an interview for BOMB magazine, "I didn’t write anything. I was just one of those ordinary people. I was running a jazz club, and I didn’t create anything at all."
According to anecdote, that all changed at a baseball game. While Murakami was watching the Yakult Swallows play the Hiroshima Carp, Dave Hilton, an American player, came to bat and hit a double. In that instant, Murakami realized he had a story to tell. At home after the game, he began to write. His first novel, Hear the Wind Sing, was published in Japan in 1979, and won the Gunzou Literature Prize. Encouraged, Murakami continued to write, producing two sequels to complete what is now known as The Trilogy of the Rat.
His work is heavily influenced by Western culture and Russian literature, and it is perhaps these global influences that have led to Murakami's international popularity. His work has been translated into dozens of languages and has won prizes around the world. His book 1Q84 was one of Brilliant Books' Most Brilliant Books of the Decade.