The Inner World of Haruki Murakami

STORY BY Ellen Xie

Published: April 20, 2013

I spend most of my days in my head, listening to my thoughts. Days on end, and communicating with others takes effort, the courage to emerge from a mind numbed by seclusion.

Is that the life of an author?

Haruki Murakami says, “When I write novels, I have to go down into a very deep, dark, and lonely place. And then I have to come back, back to the surface. It’s very dangerous. And you have to be strong, physically and mentally strong, in order to do that every day.”

For those of us who tend to reclusive behavior, who do not mind staying home and letting our thoughts wander to far off places, to explore obscure theories unhinged to facts, the worlds of fiction and reality blend more readily.

In IQ84, one of Murakami's newer novels, a character makes a single appearance in the first chapter and disappears. He says, “Don’t let appearances fool you. There’s always only one reality."

Aomame, one of the main characters, then climbs down an emergency shaft and emerges in a new world, one with two moons. As we, the reader, sink deeper into the plot, follow her into the world of IQ84, the mystery man’s warning remains, as much a warning for the character as for the reader, and ultimately, the author.

Murakami, the bestselling author known for his introversion asks a question too terrifying for most. If we let our minds wander, where will it take us? If we allow ourselves to follow our train of thought without reserve, and write it down as it happens, then perhaps we can all create worlds such as IQ34, equally complicated as the real world, and perhaps, all the more magical and frightening because of it.

The characters in Murakami's novel travel from one world to the next through a physical structure, the emergency exit in the middle of the highway. In real life, we have no such luxury, no such obvious mark of an altered universe as an extra moon in the sky. Instead, we open new doors with our minds, without knowing the change that has occurred, and unaware of the new reality that surrounds us with each passing experience and thought. 

Other Stories by Ellen Xie
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