Despite the doomsayers, I am a giddy optimist about the future of good writing: books, short stories, poetry, and essays. Most times, it is enough to just feel things are going to be ok. But there are also those welcome tangible incidents of reassurance. John Freeman is the highly respected former president of the National Book Critics Circle, editor of Granta until 2013 and regular contributor of stories and reviews to major publications.
A new Haruki Murakami book is always a big event. However, I approached the publication of Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973 with a little trepidation. Neither is actually new. They are in fact Murakami’s debut works, the first two volumes of the Rat Trilogy which were, at his request, never published outside of Japan.
Murakami described them as “immature works … very small books” that were part of a learning process: “What I was trying to do in my first two books was to deconstruct the traditional Japanese novel. By deconstruct, I mean remove everything inside, leaving only the framework. Then I had to fill the framework in with something fresh and original,” he told The Paris Review. “I discovered to do it successfully only after my third book, A Wild Sheep Chase in 1982. The first two novels were helpful in the learning process – no more than that. I consider A Wild Sheep Chase to be the true beginning of my style.”
As with travel, a great deal of the pleasure of book festivals lies in the planning. Hours can be whiled away pouring over brochures or web sites, drawing up timelines and bemoaning a clash of favorites. And as the almost final decisions take place there is that delightful frisson of anticipated pleasure followed by a flurry of preparatory reading.
Sydney Writers Festival, which kicks off next week, has grown from a rather modest, largely parochial affair, to a weeklong extravaganza with such variety of offerings that have earned it an international reputation. Although there are sessions spread around the city the main venue is the Walsh Bay precinct with its awesome outlook over Sydney Harbour. There is a constellation of internationally recognised guests from Australia and
Japanese writer Haruki Murakami heads a stellar line-up at the Auckland Writers Festival in New Zealand the full programme for which has just been released. Among the others attending the festival, which runs from 13-17 May at the Aolea Centre, are multi-award winning Australian writer Tim Winton (Eyrie, Cloudstreet), David Mitchell (The Bone…
Whilst Haruki Murakami and Karl Ove Knausgard are the highest profile authors nominated for the long list of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2015 it is the Germans who have dominated with five authors making the cut. It was a delight to see one of my favourite books from last year, The Giraffe’s Neck…
Anything new from Japanese author Haruki Murakami is welcome. This week he published Kino, a newly translated short story, in the New Yorker. This is not the first time he has shared his work in this way. In October last year Scheherazade was published and Yesterday in June 2014 to name just a couple.
2014 has been another wonderful year for literature, a classic case of so many books, so little time. I ended the year having read 80 books, predominantly fiction novels, but including one play (Mike Bartlett’s perceptive and witty King Charles 111, works of non-fiction and collections of short stories.
An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine (Text)
The UnAmericans by Molly Antopol (W.W.Norton)
The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vasquez (Bloomsbury)
Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki by Haruki Murakami (Alfred A Knopf)
Thank you For Your Service by David Finkle (Text)
Beyond the Beautiful Forever by Katherine Boo (Random House)
The Golden Age by Joan London (Random House Australia)
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (Allen & Unwin)
A Winter’s Book by Tove Jansson (A Sort of Book)
His Own Man by Ribeiro Edgard (Text):
The gender division was 66-44 per cent to the blokes, the authors came from
Tsukuru Tazaki is part of a close quintet of middle-class, suburban students four of whom, by chance, have a surname associated with colour. Tazaki is delighted but slightly bewildered by the intensity of the bond, not least because he is “the only one in the group without anything special about him… there was not one single quality he possessed that was worth bragging about or showing off to others. At least that was how he viewed himself.” Conscious of his lack of “colour” he is content to stay on the edges of the group, an observer of his vibrant friends rather than an active contributor.
Unlike the others he leaves his home town to go to university in Tokyo but keeps in touch, returning often, easily picking up the relationship. Then one day, without warning or explanation, he finds himself expelled from the group and ostracised. Something terrible has happened which they cannot forgive. Efforts to discover what, are futile. The feedback, when he can get any, is that “he knows”.
Mystified, Tazaki is strangely acquiescent to his new fate as an outsider. Apparently
Whilst it seems rather undignified to bet on something like the Nobel prize for literature, as all literary prizes are a bit of a lottery I shouldn’t really be surprised. So, as we enter the final straight toward’s the announcement of the winner on Thursday (BST), latest figures put out…
The english translation of Haruki Murakami’s much-anticipated new novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, finally made it into the stores this week. Was it worth the wait? Ed Wright in The Weekend Australian: “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage shows that what looks like success from the…