• Riz Pulumbarit

#RizRecommends lockdown must-reads from Haruki Murakami

Japanese author Haruki Murakami has churned out one bestseller after another in the last two decades. As a testament to his universal appeal, his works have been translated into 50 languages.

Murakami’s works range from short stories, many of which appear on the American publication The New Yorker, to full-blown epic novels, to reportage like the Tokyo subway poison gas attacks.

These novels showcase Murakami’s range and skill, making him one of the hottest writers today.


1Q84

Release Date: 2011

1157 pages

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars


One of Murakami’s most critically acclaimed works, 1Q84 is a thousand-plus page tour de force. Aomame, the story’s female protagonist lives in a dystopian 1984. She notices small changes  around her until she finds out that she is living in an alternate 1984. Together with her lover Tengo, they weave through the obstacles and perils of a year that does not want to let go of them.


Killing Commendatore

Release Date: 2018

733 pages

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


A portrait artist finds himself holed up in a friend’s house atop a mountain after separating from his wife. Up in the attic, he finds a traditional oil painting by his friend’s father, a celebrated painter already confined to a nursing home. As he unwraps the painting entitled Killing Commendatore, he opens a Pandora’s box of love, tragedy, and deception.



The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Release Date: 1997

607 pages

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


Murakami revisits Japan’s military past in this award-winning work. Toru, an unemployed thirtysomething, manages the household for his breadwinner wife, Kumiko. After their cat suddenly disappears, she asks Toru to look for it and encounters a teenage girl named May. With her help, he  goes down an abandoned dry well at a decrepit property. Here he discovers the darkness of the past, the present, and even of himself.  


Norwegian Wood

Release Date: 2000 (revised translation edition)

386 pages

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


One of  the few Murakami novels where he neither uses surrealism nor magic, this straightforward story tells how the life of  Toru Watanabe intersects with the lives of the beautiful but fragile Naoko and the carefree and vivacious Midori. A story of love lost and found, Murakami succeeds in creating complex, believable characters that are also endearing.



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