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Comparing a Japanese writer with Haruki Murakami is the laziest move a reviewer can make, but with “Slow Boat,” Hideo Furukawa leaves critics no choice.

In a postscript, the author explains that the subtitle, “A Slow Boat to China RMX,” is a loving remix (RMX) of a Murakami story, and he hits many of the classic Murakami tropes — jazz musicians, quirky girlfriends, lonely university students — along the way. Furukawa may describe Murakami as “the roots of my soul,” but he is far from a Murakami clone. While Murakami’s recent efforts have disappointed and the spark seems to have gone from his writing, Furukawa is firing on all cylinders.

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