Haruki Murakami (村上 春樹 Murakami Haruki, born 12 January 1949) is a best-selling contemporary Japanese writer. His works of fiction and non-fiction have garnered critical acclaim and numerous awards, both in Japan and internationally, including the World Fantasy Award (2006) and the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award (2006), while his whole oeuvre garnered the Franz Kafka Prize (2006), the Jerusalem Prize (2009), and the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Prize (2016) among others.
- I said this one day to the doctor in charge of my case, and he told me that, in a sense, what I was feeling was right, that we are in here not to correct the deformation but to accustom ourselves to it: that one of our problems was our inability to recognize and accept our own deformities. Just as each person has certain idiosyncrasies in the way he or she walks, people have idiosyncrasies in the way they think and feel and see things, … "
- In a letter from Naoko, Norwegian Wood
- Painful is the stress when one cannot reproduce or convey vividly to others, however hard he tries, what he's experienced so intensely. In my case, the stronger is the intention to "write about a particular subject in a particular way," the harder it becomes to start writing and to express myself. This stress somewhat resembles the irritation one feels when he cannot describe to another person what he experienced so vividly and realistically in his dreams. All words I use to narrate my feeling of the moment fail incessantly to describe what I wish to, and then they begin to betray me.
- "A Long Way from The Stuffed Cabbage" (short story)
- The world would be a pretty dull place if it were made up only of the first-rate, right?
- "Man-Eating Cats"
- Mediocrity is like a spot on your shirt, it never comes off.
- Dance Dance Dance (1988)
- "likewesaid, we'lldowhatwecan. Trytoreconnectyou, towhatyouwant," said the Sheep Man. "Butwecan'tdoit-alone. Yougottaworktoo.
Sittingsnotgonnadoit, thinking'snotgonnadoit." "So what do I have to do?" "Dance," said the Sheep Man. "Yougottadance. Aslongasthemusicplays. Yougotta dance. Don'teventhinkwhy. Starttothink, yourfeetstop. Yourfeetstop, wegetstuck. Wegetstuck, you'restuck. Sodon'tpayanymind, nomatterhowdumb. Yougottakeepthestep. Yougottalimberup. Yougottaloosenwhatyoubolteddown. Yougottauseallyougot. Weknowyou're tired, tiredandscared. Happenstoeveryone, ok? Justdon'tletyourfeetstop."
- Dance Dance Dance
- But I didn't understand then. That I could hurt somebody so badly she would never recover. That a person can, just by living, damage another human being beyond repair.
- Even castles in the sky can do with a fresh coat of paint.
- South of the Border, West of the Sun
- You burn barns. I don't burn barns. There's this glaring difference, and to me, rather than say which of us is strange, first of all I'd like to clear up just what that difference is.
- "Barn Burning"(short story) in The Elephant Vanishes (1993)
- Why do people have to be this lonely? What's the point of it all? Millions of people in this world, all of them yearning, looking to others to satisfy them, yet isolating themselves. Why? Was the earth put here just to nourish human loneliness?
- Sputnik Sweetheart (1999)
- And it came to me then. That we were wonderful traveling companions but in the end no more than lonely lumps of metal in their own separate orbits. From far off they look like beautiful shooting stars, but in reality they're nothing more than prisons, where each of us is locked up alone, going nowhere. When the orbits of these two satellites of ours happened to cross paths, we could be together. Maybe even open our hearts to each other. But that was only for the briefest moment. In the next instant we'd be in absolute solitude. Until we burned up and became nothing.
- Sputnik Sweetheart
- You are a beautiful person, Doctor. Clearheaded. Strong. But you seem always to be dragging your heart along the ground. From now on, little by little, you must prepare yourself to face death. If you devote all of your future energy to living, you will not be able to die well. You must begin to shift gears, a little at a time. Living and dying are, in a sense, of equal value.
- "Thailand", from After the Quake (1999)
- People's memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive. Whether those memories have any actual importance or not, it doesn't matter as far the maintenance of life is concerned. They are all just fuel. Advertising filler in the news paper, philosophy books, dirty pictures in a magazine, a bundle of ten-thousand-yen bills; when you feed them to fire, they are just paper. The fire isn't thinking 'oh This is Kant' or 'Oh This is Yomuri evening edition' or 'Nice tits', while it burns. To the fire, they are nothing but scraps of paper. It is the exact same thing. Important memories , not-so-important memories, totally useless memories : there is no distinction — they are all just fuel
- After Dark (2004)
- Numbers aren’t the important thing … what matters is deciding in your heart to accept another person completely. When you do that, it is always the first time and the last.
- "The Kidney-shaped Stone that Moves Every Day" (translated by Jay Rubin), from Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (2005)
- I don't care about the time I run. I can try all I want, but I doubt I'll ever be able to run the way I used to. I'm ready to accept that. It's not one of your happier realities, but that's what happens when you get older. Just as I have my own role to play, so does time. And time does its job much more faithfully, much more accurately, than I ever do. Ever since time began (when was that, I wonder?), it's been moving ever forward without a moment's rest. And one of the privileges given to those who've avoided dying young is the blessed right to grow old. The honour of physical decline is waiting, and you have to get used to that reality.
- What I Talk about When I Talk about Running (2009)
- Seeing a lot of water like that every day is probably an important thing for human beings. For human beings might be a bit of a generalization—but I do know it’s important for one person: me. If I go for a time without seeing water, I feel like something’s slowly draining out of me. It’s probably like the feeling a music lover has when, for whatever reason, he’s separated from music for a long time. The fact that I was raised near the sea might have something to do with it.
- What I Talk about When I Talk about Running (2009)
- If there is a hard, high wall and an egg that breaks against it, no matter how right the wall or how wrong the egg, I will stand on the side of the egg. Why? Because each of us is an egg, a unique soul enclosed in a fragile egg. Each of us is confronting a high wall. The high wall is the system which forces us to do the things we would not ordinarily see fit to do as individuals . . . We are all human beings, individuals, fragile eggs. We have no hope against the wall: it's too high, too dark, too cold. To fight the wall, we must join our souls together for warmth, strength. We must not let the system control us -- create who we are. It is we who created the system.
- Jerusalem Prize acceptance speech, (2009)
- The elevator continued its impossibly slow ascent. Or at least I imagined it was ascent. There was no telling for sure: it was so slow that all sense of direction simply vanished. It could have been going down for all I knew, or maybe it wasn’t moving at all. But let’s just assume it was going up. Merely a guess. Maybe I’d gong up twelve stories, then down three. Maybe I’d circled the globe. How would I know?
- Opening paragraph, Chapter One
- If your confusion leads you in the right direction, the results can be uncommonly rewarding.
- Chapter One
- I always say—a prejudice on my part, I'm sure—you can tell a lot about a person's character from his choice of sofa. Sofas constitute a realm inviolate unto themselves. This, however, is something that only those who have grown up sitting on good sofas will appreciate. It's like growing up reading good books or listening to good music. One good sofa breeds another good sofa; one bad sofa breeds another bad sofa. That's how it goes. There are people who drive luxury cars, but have only second- or third-rate sofas in their homes. I put little trust in such people. An expensive automobile may well be worth its price, but it's only an expensive automobile. If you have the money, you can buy it, anyone can buy it. Procuring a good sofa, on the other hand, requires style and experience and philosophy. It takes money, yes, but you also need a vision of the superior sofa. That sofa among sofas.
- Chapter Five: Tabulations, Evolution, Sex Drive
- Many are the women who can take their clothes off seductively, but women who can charm as they dress?
- Chapter Nine: Appetite, Disappointment, Leningrad
- Now for a good twelve-hour sleep, I told myself. Twelve solid hours. Let birds sing, let people go to work. Somewhere out there, a volcano might blow, Israeli commandos might decimate a Palestinian village. I couldn't stop it. I was going to sleep.
- Chapter Thirteen: Frankfurt, Door, Independent Operants
- I’ve read Rudin before, but that was fifteen years ago in university. Rereading it now, lying all bandaged up, sipping my whiskey in bed in the afternoon, I felt new sympathy for the protagonist Rudin. I almost never identify with anybody in Dostoyevsky, but the characters in Turgenev’s old-fashioned novels are such victims of circumstance, I jump right in. I have a thing about losers. Flaws in oneself open you up to others flaws. Not that Dostoyevsky’s characters don’t generate pathos, but they’re flawed in a way that don’t come across as faults.
- Chapter Fifteen: Whiskey, Torture, Turgenoev
- Kindness and a caring mind are two separate qualities. Kindness is manners. It is superficial custom, an acquired practice. Not so the mind. The mind is deeper, stronger, and, I believe, it is far more inconstant.
- Chapter 16: The Coming of Winter
- "You said that the mind is like the wind, but perhaps it is we who are like the wind. Knowing nothing, simply blowing through. Never aging, never dying"
- Chapter 16: The Coming of Winter
- Unclose your mind. You are not a prisoner. You are a bird in fight, searching the skies for dreams.
- Chapter 18:
- Once again, life had a lesson to teach me: It takes years to build up, it takes moments to destroy. Sure, I'd gotten tired of this tiny space, but I'd had a good home here. In the time it takes to swill two cans of beer, all had had sublimed like morning mist. My job, my whiskey, my peace and quiet, my solitude, my Somerset Maugham, and John Ford collections-all of it trashed and worthless.
- Chapter 19: Hamburgers,Skyline and Deadline
- “That's wrong," she declared. "Everyone must have one thing that they can excel at. It's just a matter of drawing it out, isn't it? But school doesn't know how to draw it out. It crushes the gift. It's no wonder most people never get to be what they want to be. They just get ground down.”
- Chapter 19: Hamburgers,Skyline and Deadline
- "You got to know your limits. Once is enough, but you got to learn. A little caution never hurt anyone. A good woodsman has only one scar on him. No more, no less."
- Chapter 24: Shadow Grounds
- "You are not lost. It's just that your own thoughts are being kept from you, or hidden away. But the mind is strong. It survives even without thought. Even with everything taken away, it holds a seed-your self. You must believe in your powers."
- Chapter 24: Shadow Grounds
- First, about the mind. You tell me there is no fighting or hatred or desire in the Town. That this is a beautiful dream, and I do want your happiness. But the absence of fighting or hatred or desire also means the opposites do not exist either. No joy, no communion, no love. Only where there is disillusionment and depression and sorrow does happiness arise; without the despair of loss, there is no hope.
- Chapter 32, Shadow in the Throes of Death
- Once, when I was younger, I thought I could be someone else. I'd move to Casablanca, open a bar, and I'd meet Ingrid Bergman. Or more realistically - whether actually more realistic or not - I'd tune in on a better life, something more suited to my true self. Toward that end, I had to undergo training. I read The Greening of America, and I saw Easy Rider three times. But like a boat with a twisted rudder, I kept coming back to the same place. I wasn't anywhere. I was myself, waiting on the shore for me to return.
- Chapter 33, Rainy-Day Laundry, Car Rental, Bob Dylan
- "I never trust people with no appetite. It's like they're always holding something back on you."
- Chapter 35, Nail Clippers, Butter Sauce, Iron Vase
- Losing you is most difficult for me, but the nature of my love for you is what matters. If it distorts into half-truth, then perhaps it is better not to love you. I must keep my mind but loose you.
- Chapter 38, Escape
- Fairness is a concept that holds only in limited situations. Yet we want the concept to extend to everything, in and out of phase. From snails to hardware stores to married life. Maybe no one finds it, or even misses it, but fairness is like love. What is given has nothing to do with what we seek.
- Chapter 39, Popcorn, Lord Jim, Extinction
- "You yourself created this Town. You made everything here. The Wall, the River, the Woods, the Library, the Gate, everything. Even this Pool. I've known all along."
"Then why did you not tell me sooner?"
"Because you'd only have left me here like this. Because your rightful world is there outside." My shadow sits down in the snow and shakes his head from side to side. "But you won't listen, will you?"
"I have responsibilities," I say. "I cannot forsake the people and places and things I have created. I know I do you a terrible wrong. And yes, perhaps I wrong myself, too. But I must see out the consequences of my own doings. This is my world. The Wall is here to hold me in, the River flows through me, the smoke is me burning. I must know why."
- Chapter 40, Birds
- Genius or fool, you don't live in the world alone. You can hide underground or you can build a wall around yourself, but somebody's going to come along and screw up the works.
Norwegian Wood (1987)
- If you're in pitch blackness, all you can do is sit tight until your eyes get used to the dark.
- If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.
- But who can say what's best? That's why you need to grab whatever chance you have of happiness where you find it, and not worry about other people too much. My experience tells me that we get no more than two or three such chances in a life time, and if we let them go, we regret it for the rest of our lives.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1994-1995)
- Money had no name of course. And if it did have a name, it would no longer be money. What gave money its true meaning was its dark-night namelessness, its breathtaking interchangeability.
- But even so, every now and then I would feel a violent stab of loneliness. The very water I drink, the very air I breathe, would feel like long, sharp needles. The pages of a book in my hands would take on the threatening metallic gleam of razor blades. I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at 4 o'clock in the morning.
- He inherited from his mother's stories the fundamental style he used, unaltered, in his own stories: namely, the assumption that fact may not be truth, and truth may not be factual.
- You can hide memories, but you can't erase the history that produced them.
First Person Singular (2021)
- Page numbers from the hardcover first English edition, published by Alfred A. Knopf, ISBN 978-0-593-31807-2
- Loving someone is like having a mental illness that’s not covered by health insurance.
- On a Stone Pillow (p. 37)
- Each and every moment, our bodies are on a one-way journey to collapse and deterioration, unable to turn back the clock.
- On a Stone Pillow (p. 47)
- Whether you cut it off
or someone else cuts it off
if you put your neck on the stone pillow
believe it—you will turn to dust.
- On a Stone Pillow (p. 49)
- I’ve heard it said that the happiest times in our lives is the period when pop songs really mean something to us, really get to us. It may be true. Or maybe not. Pop songs may, after all, be nothing but pop songs. And perhaps our lives are merely decorative, expendable items, a burst of fleeting color and nothing more.
- With the Beatles (pp. 88-89)
- In Hollywood in the fifties, a happy ending always involved marriage—the creation of an environment in which lovers could have sex legally.
- With the Beatles (p. 90)
- Once again, I was confused. It felt like bits of reality and unreality were randomly changing places.
- Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey (p. 151)
- No matter how vivid memories may be, they can’t win out against the power of time.
- Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey (p. 154)
- I know a few beautiful women, the kind that anyone would find lovely and charming. But to me those beautiful women, the majority of them at least, never seem able to truly, unconditionally, derive pleasure in being gorgeous. Kind of strange, I think. Women who are born beautiful are always the center of men’s attention. Other women are jealous of them and they get coddled no end. People give them expensive presents, and they have their pick of men. So why don’t they seem happier? Why do they sometimes even seem depressed?
What I’ve observed is that most of the beautiful women I know are dissatisfied, and irritated by tiny, inconsequential flaws—the kind inevitably found somewhere in any person’s physical makeup. They obsess over these little details. Their toes are too big, or their nails are weirdly off center, or their nipples aren’t the same size. One gorgeous woman I know is convinced that her earlobes are too long, and always wears her hair long to hide them.
- Carnaval (p. 167)
Quotes about Haruki Murakami
- The novelist Haruki Murakami wrote in his Kafka on the Shore, "And once the storm is over you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about." This is the experience of transformation that Terry Tempest Williams wrote about.
- (Which other...writers do you appreciate?) V:...if you ask me for a list, it can go from Clarice Lispector to Haruki Murakami, with innumerable names on the way.