Murakami calls latest novel ‘new attempt’

Kyodo

Acclaimed author Haruki Murakami said in a rare public appearance that his latest novel, depicting the story of a man facing up to his bitter past, is a “new attempt” for him.

“There may be some people who feel I’m going backward from a literary perspective, but for me it’s a new attempt,” the 64-year-old told an audience of 500 people chosen by lottery for the event at Kyoto University on Monday.

His latest novel, “Shikisai o Motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to, Kare no Junrei no Toshi” (“Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage”), released last month, revolves around a lonely 36-year-old man who was deeply hurt by his experiences in adolescence and visits old friends 16 years later.

Talking about the background of his latest work, Murakami said he has developed “an interest in actual human beings” and that the novel ended up with more characters than originally planned.

He also revealed he was “guided” by the characters when writing. “I felt as if I was getting bigger by being guided through an experience,” Murakami said. “I hope the readers will be able to share such a feeling.”

His first novel in three years was released April 12 and sold a million copies in the first week.

The interview, conducted by literary critic Yutaka Yukawa, was organized to commemorate the launch of a new literary prize in the name of the late Hayao Kawai, a professor emeritus at Kyoto University and former head of the Cultural Affairs Agency.

In a lecture prior to the interview, Murakami said: “Stories lie deep in our souls. Stories lie so deep at the bottom of our hearts that they can bring people together on the deepest level. When I write a novel, I go into such depths.”

Touching on his memories of Kawai, a noted Jungian psychologist who died in 2007 at age 79, Murakami said he was “the only person” with whom he could empathize in terms of such depths.