Talking about Haruki Murakami is dangerous. Because you take the risk of categorize him and this is not possible. Murakami is a Japanese writer, author of various novels, all of them fantastically written and extremely imaginative and detailed. They have a lot of political, social and literary content. Murakami has hundreds of thousands of followers that constantly advocate for a Literature Nobel Prize. I read that when thousands of people idolized him in Japan in the nineties he hated it. Now the feeling runs through the whole world. I am not sure what he thinks about this.
But it is clear that he is a great writer. Whoever loves Japan and the Japanese authors and hasn’t read Murakami left its homework right in the middle of it. I decided to start with a review on Tokio Blues, not because it is a simple book, but because it is one of the shortest. Besides, whoever starts reading Murakami with Tokio Blues takes the risk of not reading Murakami again. I think it is because of the sentiments that this book reflects. If I have to describe them they are feelings of emptiness, despair, of loss of hope.
This book goes through all those obscure feelings of the human being. It is a politically turbulent period in Japan. That of the sixties. It was also turbulent on the social behaviour of the Japanese society. The book explores a current subject in Japan. Mental health and suicide of the Japanese youth. A lot of characters commit suicide in this story. It does not matter who is on the centre of the narrative, if looking around they would see a family member or a friend that committed suicide. Eventually this happen to them too. It is like a domino game where all the pieces fall one after the other. I do not think that the author wanted to imply that they did this by imitation, no. It is because all of them are surrounded by adverse circumstances that there is no other option that end their own lives. There is also a reflexion about the environment in Japan. Strict, silent, tabu. Whoever doesn’t fit should leave the social circle. A lot of them decide to live in mental institutions away from society.
Our main character, Toru Watanabe, seems to be attracted by these type of personalities. He fell in love with the girlfriend of his friend who committed suicide. She lives in a mental institution. After, he fell for a compulsive liar. It seems that she lied simply to scape her current circumstances. He established friendships with people driven by compulsive behaviour, either order, either sex. However our Toru, despite of being attracted by this behaviour, manages to separate his life from them, leaving every situation physically unhurt but with a lot of traumatic stress. His personality is changeable, flighty. Maybe it is because he is young. Or maybe because we cannot see if he is close to his family, but he is really driven by his friends. Or maybe because he does not have a dream, or a talent to be exploited in his favour.
This book has been narrated in such a detailed, particular and wonderful way that can transmit all what the characters are living punctually. It scares you, enrages you, and pass on that horrible feeling of helplessness. It is a magnificent book. But this is not a book to judge Murakami. To judge Murakami we have to read more of him. We have to read his other books. Because he deserves more praise. Does he deserve the Literature Nobel Prize? Why not. That is how Murakami is.
Note: More reviews about this author are coming our way. Once you start reading this author, there is no way you can stop.