“I am 55 years old now. It takes three years to write one book. I don’t know how many books I will be able to write before I die. It is like a countdown. So with each book I am praying – please let me live until I am finished.”
HARUKI MURAKAMI NOVELS
It is rare that readers will work through a list of Haruki Murakami’s books and stories in chronological order, but if you want to trace the evolution of his writing, knowing when each work was published will help open your eyes to the way these worlds bleed together. There is no wrong way to read Haruki Murakami, but there is what I consider the best way to read Haruki Murakami. If you want to see a list of Haruki Murakami books in order, here is an overview of when each of his novels was published in Japanese. You’ll also find a quote from each book that gives you a snapshot of Haruki Murakami’s exquisite prose. Even in translation, he really has a way with words.
“For example, the wind has its reasons. We just don’t notice as we go about our lives. But then, at some point, we are made to notice. The wind envelops you with a certain purpose in mind, and it rocks you. The wind knows everything that’s inside you. And not just the wind. Everything, including a stone. They all know us very well. From top to bottom. It only occurs to us at certain times. And all we can do is go with those things. As we take them in, we survive, and deepen.”
“On any given day, something claims our attention. Anything at all, inconsequential things. A rosebud, a misplaced hat, that sweater we liked as a child, an old Gene Pitney record. A parade of trivia with no place to go. Things that bump around in our consciousness for two or three days then go back to wherever they came from… to darkness. We’ve got all these wells dug in our hearts. While above the wells, birds flit back and forth.”
“Body cells replace themselves every month. Even at this very moment. Most everything you think you know about me is nothing more than memories.”
“You tell me there is no fighting or hatred or desire in the Town. That is a beautiful dream, and I do want your happiness. But the absence of fighting or hatred or desire also means the opposites do not exist either. No joy, no communion, no love. Only where there is disillusionment and depression and sorrow does happiness arise; without despair or loss, there is no hope.”
“No truth can cure the sorrow we feel from losing a loved one. No truth, no sincerity, no strength, no kindness can cure that sorrow. All we can do is see it through to the end and learn something from it, but what we learn will be no help in facing the next sorrow that comes to us without warning.”
“So what can I do now?” she spoke up a minute later.
“Nothing,” I said. “Just think about what comes before words. You owe that to the dead. As time goes on, you’ll understand. What lasts, lasts; what doesn’t, doesn’t. Time solves most things. And what time can’t solve, you have to solve yourself. Is that too much to ask?”
“A little,” she said, trying to smile.
“Well, of course it is,” I said, trying to smile too.
“I doubt that this makes sense to most people. But I think I’m right. People die all the time. Life is a lot more fragile than we think. So you should treat others in a way that leaves no regrets. Fairly, and if posible, sincerely. It’s too easy not to make the effort, then weep and wring your hands after the person dies. Personally, I don’t buy it.”
Yuki leaned against the car door. “But that’s real hard, isn’t it?” she said.
“Real hard,” I said. “But it’s worth trying for.”
“I think you still love me, but we can’t escape the fact that I’m not enough for you. I knew this was going to happen. So I’m not blaming you for falling in love with another woman. I’m not angry, either. I should be, but I’m not. I just feel pain. A lot of pain. I thought I could imagine how much this would hurt, but I was wrong.”
“But even so, every now and then I would feel a violent stab of loneliness. The very water I drink, the very air I breathe, would feel like long, sharp needles. The pages of a book in my hands would take on the threatening metallic gleam of razor blades. I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o’clock in the morning.”
“Why do people have to be this lonely? What’s the point of it all? Millions of people in this world, all of them yearning, looking to others to satisfy them, yet isolating themselves. Why? Was the earth put here just to nourish human loneliness?”
“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.
And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.
And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
“In this world, there are things you can only do alone, and things you can only do with somebody else. It’s important to combine the two in just the right amount.”
“As I see it, you are living with something that you keep hidden deep inside. Something heavy. I felt it from the first time I met you. You have a strong gaze, as if you have made up your mind about something. To tell you the truth, I myself carry such things around inside. Heavy things. That is how I can see it in you.”
“One heart is not connected to another through harmony alone. They are, instead, linked deeply through their wounds. Pain linked to pain, fragility to fragility. There is no silence without a cry of grief, no forgiveness without bloodshed, no acceptance without a passage through acute loss. That is what lies at the root of true harmony.”
“In the silence of the woods it felt like I could hear the passage of time, of life passing by. One person leaves, another appears. A thought flits away and another takes its place. One image bids farewell and another one appears on the scene. As the days piled up, I wore out, too, and was remade. Nothing stayed still. And time was lost. Behind me, time became dead grains of sand, which one after another gave way and vanished. I just sat there in front of the hole, listening to the sound of time dying.”
MURAKAMI NOVELS CHECKLIST
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