Haruki Murakami: “One of Japan’s most important writers, he is criticized for being too Westernized”

From The Writer’s Almanac: 

It’s the birthday of writer Haruki Murakami, born in 1949 in Kyoto, Japan. Considered one of Japan’s most important 20th-century writers, he is heavily influenced by American culture, and has been criticized by some Japanese for being too Westernized.

As a teenager, he read writers Kurt Vonnegut, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, Raymond Chandler, and Raymond Carver to the exclusion of Japanese literature, so that when he wrote own novel in his late 20s, he struggled so much that he wrote the beginning in English, then translated it back into Japanese. He has since translated the works of Raymond Carver into Japanese.

His works include Hear the Wind Sing (1979), A Wild Sheep Chase (1982), and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (1995). His first nonfiction book, Underground (2001), is an oral history of the 1995 gas attack by religious extremists in the Tokyo subway. His novel Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage came out internationally in 2014 and sold one million copies in a month. His newest book, First Person Singular, is a collection of eight short stories.

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