Writing about Haruki Murakami’s work is like trying to explain the significance of a dream you had. Everything’s true and nothing is real. Or the other way around.
For example, if I tell you about his recent little book, The Strange Library, I could say ‘a young boy goes to the library to borrow some books and an old librarian locks him in a cell in the middle of a labyrinth where he has to memorise the books, after which the librarian will eat his brains. While in the cell, a man in sheep’s clothing brings the boy delicious fresh donuts. They decide to escape together.’
But I’m not sure if that actually happened. I can’t be sure if the boy is indeed young, if he even went to the library or was actually imprisoned there.
I can be sure that The Strange Library is delightfully illustrated using images from the pages of old books from the British Library, including the library stamps and evidence of wear and tear.
Murakami has a way of alluding to things that my sub-conscious ‘gets’ completely, but my conscious mind struggles to explain. With simple storytelling he explores how we negotiate all the complexities of existence, bumbling along the slippery paths between our inner and outer realities, trying to find our place in the world. I find he is masterful at imbuing everyday minutiae with such meaning that it makes us feel like even the boring bits of our lives have greater depth, magic and consequence than we realise.