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Seven Facts You Perhaps Didn't Know About Haruki Murakami

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1. Although he is nowadays one of the most famous Japanese contemporary writers, Haruki Murakami is a very private person, who values most of all his anonymity and to a large degree refuses to comply to the "bestseller author" type of life. He gives very few interviews, very rarely he attends book signings or public events, is surprisingly discreet about his personal life and, as many who have met him could say, he seems to be uninterested in "being famous".

2. Like many of his characters Murakami is an avid jazz lover and jazz record collector, many of the titles in his huge collection (over 6000 vinyls) being in this genre. An real encyclopedia about the genre, he also managed his very own private jazz bar in his youth, and the atmosphere and people he met there were a powerful source of inspiration. He was also a fan of Western literature in an age when American and English authors were not very popular in Japan, though he chose to read them in English rather than wait for the translation. He also read the classical Russian authors and was very fond of classical music.

3. As he said in an interview and later in a book about writing Murakami got the idea that he could write a novel while watching... a baseball game. When everything was over he had this strong belief that he could do it. So he went to a bookshop, bought himself a pen and sheets of paper and began writing in his spare time. Only later he would use an Olivetti typewriter for his manuscript. Way before computers and current technology. After completing the first version he rewrote on the typewriter in English, and then translated it once again to Japanese. He jokingly blamed his rather poor knowledge of English for his short phrases and quick style of telling a story. But it worked.

4. Haruki Murakami has a rather strict working schedule. When writing a large novel (as some of his works are) he keeps the rule of writing about 10 pages with 400 characters each, about two and a half Mac pages. He always stops when this number is reached, even if he still wanted to keep working. If he didn't feel like writing he simply forces himself to do it.

5. He is an outsider in the literary world - both Japanese and international - as he doesn't want to be a part of it and keeps to himself. He doesn't have any friends among other writers and, as he once wrote, believes that "once you get several writers together things rarely go well".

6. The famous author - who might still one day be a Nobel winner - is by his own admission a "cat person", and one of his favourite ones was a gift from Ryu Murakami (no relation)

7. For a long time he refused to allow his first two novels - Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball - to be translated outside Japan, as he regarded these are very immature and rather bad books. Eventually he caved to the pressures of his fans from all over the world, but still he is not a fan of these works.

Photo: amazon.co.uk
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