Literary Experiences: Reading Haruki Murakami For The First Time

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(Note: This post first appeared around 2 years back on my old blog and then at For Reading Addicts. Since, I’ll soon start reading Murakami’s newest release, Men Without Women, I felt why not relive my love for the author once more?)

I heard a lot about the legend that is Haruki Murakami. Call it a mere trick of fate, or one of those occurrences for which we have no explanation, in all these years I never tried reading him. It was a strange way in which I got introduced to his work. I was going through answers on Quora where people have mentioned their favorite Murakami quotes. I instantly fell in love with the writer.

I explored him a bit further through his short stories in the New Yorker, and there I was, raring to try my first Murakami novel.

After prodding my reading community on Facebook about which book I should take up first, I started with Kafka on The Shore. I wanted to write about my journey so far.

Rarely have I felt this plethora of emotions while reading an author’s work. I am not sure about the future, but so far I’m overwhelmed. Murakami’s writing travels through a parallel universe of its own. His characters do the mundane and yet, the descriptions are so poetic that you’d want to stay with them.

For me, it has been like discovering a friend. I love his characters so much because I myself crave, and to some extent practice a slow paced life. I love fully absorbing the little moments. I love immersing myself in literature and music and hence I find his work so appealing. No wait, appealing would not do justice to what I feel. It is like coming home on a winter’s evening, to a comforting bowl of chicken soup.

Another aspect I love about his work is his love for cats. I’m a cat lover and it’s his descriptions that make me love him even more. Consider these lines:

Most people look at cats and think what a life-all we do is lie around in the sun, never having to lift a finger. But cats’ lives aren’t that idyllic. Cats are powerless, weak little creatures that injure easily. We don’t have shells like turtles, nor wings like birds. We can’t burrow into the ground like moles or change colour like a chameleon. The world has no idea how many cats are injured every day, how many of us meet a miserable end. I happen to be lucky enough to live with the Tanabes in a warm and friendly family, the children treat me well, and I’ve got everything I need. But even my life isn’t easy. When it comes to strays, though, they have a very tough time of it.

Apparently, these lines don’t portray anything outstanding or anything we don’t already know. But somehow, it tugged a chord in my heart. Maybe because of my love for cats, maybe because in such simple terms he said things which prove he’s so damn sensitive. The identification with an author or a character who feels the way I do and yet expresses it in a more dreamlike manner is what makes Murakami so special for me.

I’ve never felt the urge to write about an author after partly finishing their work. But I was so moved that I wanted to share my journey with you. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to finishing all his work, one after the other.

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