From Publishers Weekly
Part exuberant celebrator, part human Murakami encyclopedia, Rubin, a Harvard professor of Japanese Literature and a Murakami translator, puts about the author's life and writing under a microscope in this homage to all things Murakami. The internationally bestselling Murakami began publishing at age 30, while he and his wife ran Peter Cat, a Tokyo jazz club, and, as the title of this volume suggests, Murakami's writing is filled with musical references. Rubin starts by introducing the reader to "The 1963/1982 Girl from Ipanema," "one of Murakami's most musical stories." Rubin delves into Murakami's obsessions, from animals (particularly cats) to detachment, sex and hunger, by breaking down many of Murakami's stories and all of his novels. Rubin's plot summaries can go on too long before he gets to his critique, but his analyses are colorful and heartfelt, opening new ways of understanding the coolly surreal Murakami. Only in a few instances does Rubin point out a misstep, such as in Sputnik Sweetheart. Quips Rubin: "In one of the worst lines of the book, the narrator actually thinks to himself: 'Sumire went over to the other side. That would explain a lot.' Indeed it would, just as the existence of gremlins would explain how my glasses moved from my desk to the dining-room table." While Rubin states this book is for other Murakami fans, casual Murakami readers and those baffled by the writer's works could gain something from this volume.
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From Library Journal
This combination of biography and critical analysis of Murakami's life and work to date carefully chronicles one of Japan's most popular contemporary authors. Sometimes he is dismissed as a "pop lit" writer in a category with Banana Yoshimoto, especially for the novels and stories that have pop song titles (Dance Dance Dance, Norwegian Wood, "Slow Boat to China"). But works such as Wild Sheep Chase and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle have been taken more seriously and have garnered Murakami several literary prizes and invitations to Princeton, Harvard, and Tufts. A workaholic, Murakami is also noted as a translator (into Japanese) of Raymond Carver, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Irving, and others, as well as for his encyclopedic knowledge of Western music and his journalistic pursuits. Still in his early 50s, Murakami is taking his place in Japanese literature with Yasunari Kawabata, Yukio Mishima, Kenzaburo Oe, and Junichiro Tanizaki. Rubin (Japanese literature, Harvard) has translated several of Murakami's works and gives an evenhanded, nicely balanced account of his life and art. Much has been written about this important author in Japanese, but this is the first full look at him in English. Recommended for all public libraries holding Murakami's works. Kitty Chen Dean, Nassau Coll., Garden City, NY
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