I have been reading Murakami since I was a teenager, delighting in the wonderful words that were presented on the page. So, you can imagine my delight when the Auckland Writer’s Festival announced that he would be coming to New Zealand to speak. It is strange to think that Murakami would choose to come to New Zealand, as he doesn’t tour often. And New Zealand and Japan are opposites: when the Japanese are awake, we are asleep; when the Tokyo cherry blossoms are blooming, our leaves are fading; they are renowned for their cars, we for our sheep; Japan is home to 127.3 million, while only 4.4 million call New Zealand home. But, maybe this is why Murakami chose to fly here, for the strangeness – to experience to surreal, as I do when I open one of his novels.
“An Evening with Haruki Murakami” was more than I could ask for. He talked of becoming other people, of being whoever he wants within his writing, as he expressed “When I write fiction, I could be anybody… if I try hard enough”. He also talked of his unusual style – which begun by initially writing in English and then translating into Japanese, to create that perfect prose. That style comes to him naturally now, and he sees where the words will take him, and has no idea what will happen to the characters. Planning does not seem to be apart of his process. But getting up at four in the morning is.
He also spoke of trivial things that are nonetheless sacred: music, books, cats, and of course – food. When asked if cats had some kind of spiritual significance he replied, “It’s just a cat!”