Begin at the beginning
Begin at the beginning: the English-speaking world was first introduced to Murakami with this bizarre story about the convoluted hunt for a VIS (Very Important Sheep). Mysterious letters, significant photographs and perfectly-formed ears abound. The search takes our hero from the urban haunts of Tokyo to the remote and snowy mountains of northern Japan, where he confronts the confines of tradition and demons deep within himself.
Get acquainted with star-crossed lovers
If you don’t take to Murakami’s surreal side, try this deceptively simple, bittersweet and beautiful tale of young love and loss. Norwegian Wood turned him into a literary superstar in Japan and is his bestselling title throughout the world. It was adapted into a film by Tran Anh Hung in 2010. Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead composed the score, which also features music by the German band Can.
Try the early masterpiece
This ticks every Murakami box – mysterious women, vanishing cats, wells, menacing villains, supernatural influences – not to mention wisdom, ingenuity and powerful storytelling. On publication, it drew comparisons to Raymond Carver, Don DeLillo, Bret Easton-Ellis, Thomas Pynchon and even David Lynch. Many have already likened Killing Commendatore, Murakami’s forthcoming new novel, to The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle in its mesmerising style and tone.
If you’re still hesitating, why not try a short story? Murakami’s briefer works offer microcosms of his artistic vision and inventiveness. Men Without Women is his most recent collection. Across seven tales, Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are vanishing cats and smoky bars, lonely hearts and mysterious women, baseball and the Beatles, woven together to tell stories that speak to us all.
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