Surreal often more real for author Haruki Murakami

Wed Nov 25, 2009 4:36am EST
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By Yoko Kubota

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Haruki Murakami prefers to keep to himself, yet the Japanese author who is a regular favorite in Nobel literature prize predictions has been translated into more than 40 languages.

Murakami's surreal style has won him fans worldwide, and his latest novel "1Q84," his first in five years, became an instant bestseller in Japan when it was published in May. The two-volume, 1,055-page book takes place in Tokyo in the year 1Q84, a title suggestive of George Orwell's "1984" as the Japanese word for 9 is pronounced like the English letter "Q."

In an recent interview with Reuters, the media-shy Murakami spoke about reality, religious cults and how the Palestinian-Israeli conflict concerns him:

Q: Why did you write 1Q84?

A: "First, there was George Orwell's 1984, a novel about the near future. I wanted to write something that was the opposite of that, a novel on the recent past that shows how things could have been. That is something that not many people have done. I had this feeling that I wanted to re-create the past, rather than re-produce it. I am always doubtful about whether this world that I am in now is the real one. Somewhere in me, I feel there is a world that may not have been this way. It is a very eerie and scary story in a way, so I would be grateful if readers can think about why it is eerie."

Q: How do you think readers will take the novel?

A: "I think people are gradually starting to understand and accept the realness of unreal things. To me, September 11 (2001) does not feel like an incident that took place in the real world. There must be a world somewhere that this didn't happen. I think such a mood is shared by everyone, and that would help set the grounds for 1Q84 to be accepted."

Q: Why are you interested in religious cults?   Continued...

<p>A man walks past Japanese author Haruki Murakami's books in English on display at a book store in Tokyo, November 18, 2009. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon</p>