Bowdoin Reads

Professor Laurence is reading...

by Haruki Murakami

IQ84 is the latest novel by Haruki Murakami, probably Japan’s best-known and best-selling living author. He’s an astonishing story-teller with a pyrotechnicolored imagination and a Shun-sharp eye for the minutiae of consumer culture. I had the huge pleasure of meeting him a few years ago when he visited Bowdoin. Murakami is as charming, modest, and down-to-earth in person as his stories are wild, frenetic and scary. We discussed, among much much else, how some story-tellers keep their magical and spiritual realms separate from the “real” world: you get from one to the other through a clearly-defined passage such as a wardrobe, a beanstalk, a tollbooth or the River Styx. In Murakami’s stories, there are no such distinctions: cats, crows and sheep talk while Johnny Walker, Colonel Saunders and giant frogs come and go as they please. I’m especially excited to read IQ84 (Q sounds like the Japanese word for “9”) because the seed for this very long novel is the very short story On Meeting My 100% Woman One Fine April Morning. This lovely story of lost (and found?) soulmates will be familiar to captive audiences at Loose Leaves, Burnett House, and my Japanese Politics class, to whom I have recently had the pleasure of reading aloud.

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