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Haruki Murakami to donate novel manuscripts, other material to Waseda University, his alma mater

Kyodo, Staff Report

Novelist Haruki Murakami announced Sunday he will donate original manuscripts of his works and other materials to Waseda University, from which he graduated in 1975.

The donation “is a very important thing for me, so I thought I should explain clearly” by holding a news conference, said Murakami, 69. “I don’t have any children, and it would cause trouble for me if those materials became scattered or lost.”

It was his first news conference in Japan in 37 years.

The materials include copies of his books translated and published in other countries as well as his extensive collection of music records. Some of his works have been translated into more than 50 languages.

Using the donated materials, the university in Tokyo is considering setting up an international study center featuring the author’s works. It also plans to create a space that will resemble a study room with bookshelves and music records.

“I couldn’t be happier if (the center) will help those who want to study my works. I hope it will be something that promotes cultural exchange,” Murakami said.

Takayuki Tatsumi, professor of American literature at Keio University, said the creation of such a study center “will be very meaningful” because many researchers around the world write doctoral theses about Murakami’s works and international academic conferences have been held several times to discuss his literature.

Murakami, born in Kyoto in 1949, entered the No. 1 Department of Literature at Waseda in 1968. His first novel, “Hear the Wind Sing,” won the Gunzo Literature Prize for budding writers in 1979.

Although he rarely appears in public, he surprised his fans in August when he hosted a radio show for the first time to talk about his favorite music. The second radio show was aired on FM Tokyo on Oct. 21, and a third one is reportedly being planned.

Murakami said he considered some other places, including foreign universities he has worked at, as archive sites for his documents, but chose the Tokyo university because it is the school he graduated from and that it felt right.

“After nearly 40 years of writing, there is hardly any space to put the documents such as manuscripts and related articles, whether at my home or at my office, ” he said, adding that keeping them in one location is also convenient.

Murakami said he will also donate letters he exchanged with other authors and translated works to the Tokyo institution, and, if he can find them, possibly the notebooks which contain the manuscript of his popular novel “Norwegian Wood.” He also expressed hope to launch a scholarship for researchers.

Among his best-sellers is “Norwegian Wood,” published in 1987. The novel, in two volumes, sold more than 10 million copies.

In the envisioned facility to house his documents, Murakami said if possible he wants to organize a concert using his collection of vinyl records, which total more than 10,000 copies.

Murakami, who opened a cafe for jazz enthusiasts in Tokyo while still a student at Waseda University, has said music is an essential component of his career in literature.

The Japanese author’s novels have become a global phenomenon, propelling him to the status of likely contender for the Nobel Prize in literature.

Murakami has won several literary prizes, including the Franz Kafka Prize in 2006, the Jerusalem Prize in 2009 and the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award for 2016.