Cover image for Haruki Murakami and the music of words
Haruki Murakami and the music of words
Rubin, Jay, 1941-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London : Vintage, 2012.
Physical Description:
x, 462 pages : portrait ; 20 cm
General Note:
Originally published: London: Harvill, 2002.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PL856.U673 Z84 2012 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



"As a young man, Haruki Murakami played records and mixed drinks at his Tokyo Jazz club, Peter Cat, then wrote at the kitchen table until the sun came up. He loves music of all kinds - jazz, classical, folk, rock - and has more than six thousand records at home. And when he writes, his words have a music all their own, much of it learned from jazz. Jay Rubin, a self-confessed fan, has written a book for other fans who want to know more about this reclusive writer. He reveals the autobiographical elements in Murakami's fiction, and explains how he developed a distinctive new style in Japanese writing. In tracing Murakami's career, he uses interviews he conducted with the author between 1993 and 2001, and draws on insights and observations gathered from over ten years of collaborating with Murakami on translations of his works.

Author Notes

"Jay Rubin is a professor of Japanese Literature at Harvard University. He is the author of Injurious to Public Morals- Writers and the Meiji State and Making Sense of Japanese, and he edited Modern Japanese Writers for the Scribner Writers Series. He has translated into English two novels by the Japanese writer Soseki Natsume, and also Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle and after the quake."

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Part exuberant celebrator, part human Murakami encyclopedia, Rubin, a Harvard professor of Japanese Literature and a Murakami translator, puts about the author?s life and writing under a microscope in this homage to all things Murakami. The internationally bestselling Murakami began publishing at age 30, while he and his wife ran Peter Cat, a Tokyo jazz club, and, as the title of this volume suggests, Murakami?s writing is filled with musical references. Rubin starts by introducing the reader to ?The 1963/1982 Girl from Ipanema,? ?one of Murakami?s most musical stories.? Rubin delves into Murakami?s obsessions, from animals (particularly cats) to detachment, sex and hunger, by breaking down many of Murakami?s stories and all of his novels. Rubin?s plot summaries can go on too long before he gets to his critique, but his analyses are colorful and heartfelt, opening new ways of understanding the coolly surreal Murakami. Only in a few instances does Rubin point out a misstep, such as in Sputnik Sweetheart. Quips Rubin: ?In one of the worst lines of the book, [the narrator] actually thinks to himself: ?Sumire went over to the other side. That would explain a lot.? Indeed it would, just as the existence of gremlins would explain how my glasses moved from my desk to the dining-room table.? While Rubin states this book is for other Murakami fans, casual Murakami readers and those baffled by the writer?s works could gain something from this volume. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

This combination of biography and critical analysis of Murakami's life and work to date carefully chronicles one of Japan's most popular contemporary authors. Sometimes he is dismissed as a "pop lit" writer in a category with Banana Yoshimoto, especially for the novels and stories that have pop song titles (Dance Dance Dance, Norwegian Wood, "Slow Boat to China"). But works such as Wild Sheep Chase and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle have been taken more seriously and have garnered Murakami several literary prizes and invitations to Princeton, Harvard, and Tufts. A workaholic, Murakami is also noted as a translator (into Japanese) of Raymond Carver, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Irving, and others, as well as for his encyclopedic knowledge of Western music and his journalistic pursuits. Still in his early 50s, Murakami is taking his place in Japanese literature with Yasunari Kawabata, Yukio Mishima, Kenzaburo Oe, and Junichiro Tanizaki. Rubin (Japanese literature, Harvard) has translated several of Murakami's works and gives an evenhanded, nicely balanced account of his life and art. Much has been written about this important author in Japanese, but this is the first full look at him in English. Recommended for all public libraries holding Murakami's works. Kitty Chen Dean, Nassau Coll., Garden City, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.