The Metaphysical Murakami


“Every one of us is losing something precious to us. Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back again. That’s part of what it means to be alive.”

The above quote from Kafka on the Shore captures the essence of Haruki Murakami’s writing more eloquently than I could describe it. The notion of life as a series of moments passing by, given meaning by its opposite; loss.

In a way, it describes the process of reading a Murakami novel. As a reader, you’re never quite sure where this wonderful journey is taking you and upon its end, you aren’t quite sure if everything has been resolved but you can enjoy the moments that led to it. If you can learn to appreciate the journey as the experience, then you can appreciate what Murakami has to offer.

The mundane, fantasy, finding yourself

One of the common complaints I read about are from people who dislike Murakami’s explanations of the mundane things that the protagonist does. But I think the paragraphs serve to create a vivid image in the reader’s head. You can always see, clearly, what’s going on in the protagonist’s environment as well as the constant and increasing tension applied throughout the novels.

Another issue, from what I’ve read, is that they all seem to revolve around males, faced with some sort of loss, who love classical music and train stations, who must go to some place beyond reality or their comfort zone in order to seek what they’re after. But despite motifs, his works are not repetitive or formulaic.  You know you’re reading Murakami as he has grown into an author with a style based on his strengths. The worlds created are fantastic, immersive and unique from each other.

The introduction of metaphysical elements and the “fantastic” provide a thought provoking medium as well. Murakami’s is a world where cats can talk, people can communicate psychically, and seemingly inexplicable things can happen at any time.

It’s a world that once you’re drawn into, you don’t want to leave.


5 responses to “The Metaphysical Murakami

  1. i agree with some of what you’ve mentioned here. i am a fan of Murakami; my favourite book is The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. But his last one, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, was such a disappointment. I read it last Christmas and I can’t even recall what it’s about now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Completely agree. I was wanting a bit more from Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki than the way it turned out. I was energized at the start with the color based names, but this one seemed to deflate rather than pick up. I’ve had such good experiences with past novels though that I still look forward to the future.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What I also love about his style is the manner in which he makes his characters incredibly approachable. Like you mentioned above, the descriptions which make for vivid images of the book’s world and environment make the story and protagonists that much more tangible. I’m a big Murakami fan because his writing really hits all the right buttons with me. Like I’ve told people before, Murakami is the master of metaphysical melancholy. Great post!


  3. From my point of view he completely understood what life means. From the first until the last moment – if you are lucky – you are running behind youre dreams, your goals and the goals of others that might became yours voluntarily or under constraint. But everything you ever have in the beginning or in the end – is the moment. You create memories with every moment – good and bad. But you can never hold a feeling, a moment, a person. In principle everything will get lost – in the end even we. There might be left some stories, fairy tales, legends or even history but we will never get it back. It might be sad and it hurts for sure but the only possibility against is: live the moment – ideally every moment! Realize as often as you can that you have nothing more than this very moment!
    Great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

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