Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

This post has little (or even nothing) to do with Graphic Design but because I consider it's content a huge influence on my life I felt as though I should share it with you all.

Last night I finished reading the book Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. If you haven't heard of Haruki before I highly recommend you pick up one of his books and prepare for a strange yet enjoyable reading experience. 

Haruki is known for writing surreal stories based in Japan around the 60s and 70s and to be quite honest... I've never truly understood the meaning behind them. I know it sounds silly for me to recommend an author when I can't even work out the morals to his stories but reading them truly is a great experience. Haruki has a very nonchalant and relaxing writing style that I personally find very enjoyable; it easily takes you from our world into his.

When I say his work is surreal I don't mean the characters do battle with dragons or any of that fantasy malarky. Instead the characters tend to encounter spirits/ghosts (though you won't hear them called that. To negative I imagine), talking animals, A-sexual beings and even on one occasion Mr Johnny Walker (the whisky guy/company for those who don't know). These characters (usually) do their best to help guide the central character on their path to understanding their own life better.

I'm not sure if it is his style of writing, or perhaps I am just lucky, but I tend to relate to the characters he creates in each book. Not because I've gone through some hard life or seen other worldly spirits like them, but more because his characters always remind me of friends I've made over the years. There's a warmth and familiarity to them that really helps the reader feel as though they are the central character.

Anyway I'm just rambling now. Go buy or borrow one of his books and see what I'm talking about for yourself. I would recommend Norwegian Wood to ease you into his style as it's less tripy than his other books. Do be warned though that although his books usually contain an underlining theme of love this one is blatantly a romance/love story (I know it's not for us all). If you really want to avoid the romance novel After The Quake was his first book that I picked up. It's a collection of short stories and is usually dirt cheap in shops like Fopp, so go for that as a quick introduction to his style.

Oh yeah, the Graphic Design part...

I bought his books based on the covers. It was a good choice. I know we're not supposed to "judge a book buy it's cover" but I'm a Graphic Designer; if covers don't sway me then someone hasn't done their job properly!

The book was released as a film earlier this year which meant a change in the original cover. I was not amused.

Doesn't Japanese text make everything look cleaner? 

1 comment:

  1. I've just started reading Kafka on the Shore and instantly sensed Murakami's gentle almost simplistic blend of realism with surrealism (supernaturalism?). I like it so far because I have no idea where it's going to go, and I'm fed up of figuring out what happens before it does (Shutter Island? Greatest twist? I think not!).
    And, oriental typography is wonderful. It's why I try to find posters of films that were designed for the Asian release. Plus, it stops my bedroom walls looking too commercial!