A new Haruki Murakami novel, the first in six years, is getting its English release this autumn. Described as bewildering and moving in equal measure, “街とその不確かな壁” (Machi to Sono Futashikana Kabe, "The City and Its Uncertain Walls") is an enigma. It may be no more than a rehashing of the 1985 novella of a similar title that was later adapted into “世界の終わりとハードボイルド・ワンダーランド” (Sekai no Owari to Hādo Boirudo Wandārando, "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World"); it may be Murakami’s pandemic-era masterpiece.

But why wait until the fall? Armed with the knowledge and experience from reading Banana Yoshimoto and Sayaka Murata in the original Japanese in the previous installments of this series, it’s time to read Murakami as he writes, no translation needed.

The novel does share direct storylines with the 1985 novella, and some thematic and plot elements with “Hard-Boiled Wonderland.” But it is still very much its own tale. Interviews with Murakami have suggested that the book emerged out of his time alone during the pandemic, where he was made to reckon with his self rather than the outside world.