Matthew Carl Strecher, "The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami" (U Minnesota Press, 2014)

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In an “other world” composed of language—it could be a fathomless Martian well, a labyrinthine hotel, or forest—a narrative unfolds, and with it the experiences, memories, and dreams that constitute reality for Haruki Murakami’s characters and readers. Memories and dreams in turn conjure their magical counterparts—people without names or pasts, fantastic animals, half-animals, and talking machines that traverse the dark psychic underworld of this writer’s extraordinary fiction.

Fervently acclaimed worldwide, Haruki Murakami’s wildly imaginative work in many ways remains a mystery, its worlds within worlds uncharted territory. Finally in The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami (University of Minnesota Press, 2014), Matthew Carl Strecher provides readers with a map to the strange realm that grounds virtually every aspect of Murakami’s writing. A journey through the enigmatic and baffling innermost mind, a metaphysical dimension where Murakami’s most bizarre scenes and characters lurk, The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami exposes the psychological and mythological underpinnings of this other world. The author shows how these considerations color Murakami’s depictions of the individual and collective soul, which constantly shift between the tangible and intangible but in this literary landscape are undeniably real.

Through these otherworldly depths The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami also charts the writer’s vivid “inner world,” whether unconscious or underworld (what some Japanese critics call achiragawa あちら側, or “over there”), and its connectivity to language. Strecher covers all of Murakami’s work—including his efforts as a literary journalist—and concludes with the first full-length close reading of the writer’s recent novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.

Takeshi Morisato is philosopher and sometimes academic. He is the editor of the European Journal of Japanese Philosophy. He specializes in comparative and Japanese philosophy but he is also interested in making Japan and philosophy accessible to a wider audience.

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