I was busy working this afternoon when I was suddenly disturbed by what felt like a gush of light wind brushing past my shoulder. I didn’t pay it much attention. It was only later as I was driving home in the evening when I checked my twitter feed that I realised that what I had felt earlier in the afternoon was the collective sigh of global Murakami fans after they realised that Murakami had not won the Nobel Prize for literature yet again.
For those who don’t know, Haruki Murakami has been perceived as the coolest thing in literary fiction for so long that the Nobel committee probably passed him over thinking they had already awarded him. A mistake easy to make unless you are the Nobel committee. Kidding! NOT, maybe, I dunno!
As for me- I like Murakami- I thought I liked him even better until I realised that half the books that I had read and thought were written by him turned out to be actually written by David Mitchell who incidentally, ladies and gentleman is the Murakami of the Booker world. That he could write the books he did and still not win the booker prize is a puzzle worth a million dollars in one of those worlds that either a Murakami or a Mitchell would have created.
No, I don’t read carelessly. Mitchell and Murakami are easy to confuse as there is a lot of Japan in both of them. I have not read enough of contemporary Japanese literary fiction to deduce if it is indeed characteristic of the Japanese to write fiction in that half awake, half asleep but convincingly gripping, utterly moving plotline set in a world that is neither completely fantasy nor completely real. But then when I randomly picked up a Japanese short story and it proceeded along the lines of “Having been invited by a bear I set out to walk” I wondered if my theory might not have a point. But anyway two books do not form a literary tradition.
So did I think Murakami deserved to win the Nobel? Absolutely. Why? Because every one of his book features cats. In fact the Murakami cat (or should I say Murakami cats) is (are) now almost as famous as the Pavlovian dog and far less predictable which makes them a lot more fun to hang out with. Except if you do have a Murakami cat in your life that would mean your life is caught in that spiderweb tangle of existential troubles that is the core of every Murakami book and that would make your life far less fun or not depending on how you look through it. In fact I think the whole thing about Murakami not winning the Nobel has been the dog lobbyists who have been upset about the spotlight that their feline friends have been getting. Cats being cats don’t lobby- they don’t need to lobby. You think I’m crazy? Go read a Murakami book and come back converted.
Anyway, do I think Murakami will win next year? I’m not holding my breath. After all there have not been many Nobel prize winners for literature who have yet obtained my readership. Apparently David Mitchell is coming out with a new book soon. Maybe that will win a booker and that year , mark my words will be when Haruki Murakami wins the Nobel prize for literature (don’t quote me on this though!).
Until then, congratulations to Alice Munro for winning this year’s prize!