Novelist as a Vocation

Knopf. Nov. 2022. 224p. tr. from Japanese by Philip Gabriel & Ted Goossen by Japanese by Philip Gabriel & Ted Goossen. ISBN 9780451494641. $28. LIT
Murakami has written 14 acclaimed novels, including Hear the Wind Sing, Kafka on the Shore, Norwegian Wood, and his best-selling IQ84; dozens of short stories; and over a dozen books of essays and other nonfiction. Many films, plays, and other stage presentations have been based on his work. He has been a writing fellow at Princeton, Tufts, and Harvard. Novelist is indeed his true vocation, and in this collection of 11 interconnected essays, he tells would-be fiction writers, struggling novelists, and his many devoted readers about the path he’s followed and the ideas and thoughts he’s had in the process: competition among novelists; how he became a novelist (an epiphany at a baseball game in downtown Tokyo), literary prizes; originality (obvious in his writing); subject matter; use of his time (he writes six hours a day, then edits and rewrites extensively); physical fitness (he runs an hour a day to maintain the strength he needs to focus in his writing); the usefulness (or not) of writing schools and courses; creating and developing characters; audience (he writes primarily for himself); and extending his work abroad.
VERDICT Although this is a concrete and practical guide, as Murakami intended, it is also a fascinating personal and professional memoir.
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