Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Another report of Murakami's public appearance

Haruki Murakami: I live an ordinary life

By KAE MORISHITA/ Shukan Asahi Weekly Magazine
Reclusive novelist Haruki Murakami surprised and delighted the audience when he opened up about several topics during his recent speech at Kyoto University. Smiling and cracking jokes, the best-selling author and Nobel Prize contender was in high spirits from start to finish.
Murakami, 64, began his speech by saying, "I do not usually appear in public, but this is a special occasion, so I have emerged like a 'kappa' (a water goblin haunting mainly rivers). You may ask why I do not go out in public. I am a person who lives an ordinary life. I take the subway and bus to move around, and I shop at stores in my neighborhood. It would be troublesome if I was often approached on the street as a result of appearing on TV."
Murakami told a funny anecdote about his daily life.
"Years ago, I went to renew my driver's license. A staff member at the counter repeatedly called, 'Haruki Murakami.' When I went to the counter, the person asked me, 'You have the same name as that famous novelist, don't you?' I answered 'yes.' I am like an endangered Iriomote wildcat. I beg you not to come close and touch me."

"My previous work, '1Q84,' deals with the disappearance of the boundary between ordinary daily life and the bizarre, but I wanted to write a realist novel this time," he said in response to a question from essayist Yutaka Yukawa. "I wrote 'Norwegian Wood' (1987) with realism, and it was criticized as a literary retrogression. My latest novel may also be criticized along the same lines, but it has been a new attempt for me. I do not think I could have written it three or four years ago."

Toward the end of the interview, Murakami answered some of the 1,500 questions submitted to him for the event. Excerpts of the Q&A follow:
Question: Who are your favorite writers?
Murakami: Natsume Soseki (1867-1916) and Junichiro Tanizaki (1886-1965), whose writing skill is excellent. Also, Shotaro Yasuoka (1920-2013). Authors I do not like are (Yasunari) Kawabata (1899-1972) and (Yukio) Mishima (1925-1970). I cannot accept their works instinctively. When I read Ryu Murakami’s “Coin Locker Babies” (1980), I thought I want to write a novel like that. Then I quit my job to concentrate on writing novels.
Q: What is your favorite beer?
A: Maui Brewing Co.’s canned beer tasted good.
Q: What is your favorite professional baseball team?
A: When I was a child, I liked the Hanshin Tigers, but I became a fan of the Yakult Swallows after moving to near Jingu Stadium (the team's home stadium). I watch games from the right-field seats, drinking beer. I used to live in Boston, so I am also interested in the Red Sox. But former Yakult outfielder Norichika Aoki has moved to the (Milwaukee) Brewers, so I am rooting for that team as well.
Q: Where is your favorite place in Kyoto?
A: Actually, I was born in Kyoto. I like the area around the Nanzenji temple where I used to walk.
Q: What about marathon running, one of your hobbies?
A: I have run full marathons for more than 30 years. When I was running along the Kamogawa river (in Kyoto) this morning, I was surprised when a person wearing geta wooden clogs told me, "I hope you will keep up the good work." I once jogged with author John Irving in New York's Central Park. He is such an offbeat guy as to advise me to watch out for horse droppings. I hope to continue running full marathons until I am 85.

By KAE MORISHITA/ Shukan Asahi Weekly Magazine
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