25 August 2010

The Murakami Blues


The Murakami festival is over. Four days of hearing about him, thinking about him, talking about him, hearing him talk. Except for eating and sleeping once in a while, we did nothing but this. For four days (I didn't even knit. Imagine it!). Haruki Murakami himself has been in Oslo for 4-5 weeks, and came to the festival on Monday. We didn't have tickets to the live show, but we got tickets for watching the show on screen. It wasn't Plan A, but as a Plan B, it was great! So how was he? He said it himself:

"I'm an ordinary guy. Maybe not while I'm writing - you must come see me while I'm writing." Haruki Murakami, Oslo 8/23/10

And so he seemed. Like an ordinary guy. Very much alive, very funny, but ordinary. And yet there is nothing ordinary about his writing. Critics all over the world struggle when trying to put into words what it is about Murakami.

"Extraordinary things happen to ordinary people. That is what my stories are about." Haruki Murakami, Oslo 8/23/10

It's hard to tell what else these stories are about, it's hard to tell what it is that he does so well. But there is this ordinary guy, he merely exists in the world, and seems fine with that. No job, no partner, no close friends. He likes listening to music, he likes to cook. And then something happens. A love affair. A wild sheep chase. A deep well. And our guy takes on the challenge, fantastic things happen - or do they really? - and when it's over, the guy keeps on living his ordinary life. And the text is so naked, silent, direct. His writing certainly does something to me, and I like that something.

"I have no plan. That is a main thing. (..) When the story ends, I just know it ends, so I stop the story. (..) The characters just pop up in my mind, from the blue. (..) When the Sheep Man appeared, I was shocked." Haruki Murakami, Oslo 8/23/10

We laughed when he told about his creating the Sheep Man. Those of us who have read the book know this character is really something out of the ordinary. Murakami must have one great imagination (well, I never doubted that). He considers himself lucky to be a writer. That way he doesn't have to stop dreaming when he wakes up in the morning. I hope he never stops dreaming.

Apart from Murakami himself visiting, the festival program was full of other great events. Frode Grytten's "While waiting for Murakami" was spectacular as always (there is a great picture from the show here), the Peter Cat concert with Håvard Wik trio and Gisken Armand reading from Murakami's books was beautiful. And the Scandinavian Murakami translators talking about how it was translating Murakami was very interesting (I will never read a Murakami book in English again). Ika Kaminka (Norwegian) and Mette Holm (Danish) are currently translating the new Murakami book 1Q84, and Yukiko Duke (Swedish) has interviewed Murakami about the book. They talked about the book(s), and said we have a lot to look forward to. I can hardly wait.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying my signed (!) copies of What I Talk About When I Talk About Running and Sputnik Sweetheart. In Norwegian, of course.

22 comments:

Jordmor-Hanne said...

Hva kan je si? Misunnelsen er utrolig stor her je sitter.... Er stor fan av Murakami, men klarer sjelden å forklare folk hvorfor. Han må leses!! Heldige deg :)

Siena said...

Sounds wonderful! And you really make me want to read more Murakami. I just need to finish Knausgård first - that may take a while...

Anja said...

So, so envious. Particularly of the signed copies. Sigh... Lucky you! :)

Anita said...

Fantastisk Tora! Jeg følger deg i hvert et ord. Det var tre (ikke fire fordi jeg måtte opp hjem) fantastiske dager.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic! Thanks for sharing with us this memorable event. Enjoy your memories and (envious) your signed books. :-D

Anonymous said...

im re-reading Kafka on the Shore. im trying to collect all Murakami's novels. i wish i could come to the event:(

izumin said...

Hi I saw your post on Murakami's facebook.You're so lucky because you could listen to his talk. As migt you know,he barely talk about his books in front of people in Japan.

Solveig A. said...

could you please tell me in what book appears this sheep man character? please, I'm a big Murakami fan, but I don't think I've read that text,

Thanks a lot for sharing this!
Solveig, from Argentina

Acroyali said...

I'm really jealous! I'm a HUGE fan and I can't wrap my head around the idea that I'd ever attend an event where this man would be present in flesh and blood.

Like it would be impossible to comprehend meeting the most significant person in your life for the first time.

Thanks and lucky you! :)

Hummy said...

I'm so envious, I wish he would visit London sometime soon.

Anonymous said...

Its funny (me) that once I ve been convinced to French Classical Music after i read 'Kafka on the shore'.

M. said...

Amazing! I wish he comes to India someday...but..but..how could stop knitting??!!!!

m. said...

how could you*
Argh!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Tora, thank you for this report about the Murakami Meeting. It must have been great! Was there anything about what he writes at the moment and when it will appear?

K in Japan said...

Oh, Murakami is that popular in your country?
Amazing!!

normalean said...

this is so great!!! i didnt know there was a festival :( so sorry... wanted always to go to oslo, too... well my luck...
its great, how you describe him.... i always imagine him wirting his novels and i am so curious about the person murakami.
hope there will be another festival in the future :)

gretel said...

lucky you !!

Lindsey said...

So jealous, didn't know there was such a festival...you are so lucky!

p.s I'm a textile designer, maybe I should change my name to "printingalot!"....

damienne said...

I really like the books from Haruki Murakami!
I'm reading Norwegian Wood and I'm looking forward to see the movie ...
My first book I read from Haruki Murakami was the one in which the character of the "Sheepman" apeared, namely Dance, Dance, Dance. I hope SOLVEIG A. that you 'll read it once. It's a wonderful story!

life in yonder said...

Hjertet gjorde et lite hopp da jeg så overskriften din. ...Og så kom misunnelsen (av den gode sorten).

Så heldige dere er som kunne være med på alle disse aktivitetene! Signert bok; best jeg ikke sier noe mer :-)

ymymmytm said...

Sounds fantastic! Thank you sumuch for the report.I wish I could be there.
He rarely shows up in front of Japanese audiences and you are really lucky to have those signed copies. Jealous!
yumiko

Anonymous said...

Hi from denmark. Murakami is here in Denmark this weekend, my husband and i went to se him yesterday. It was a very special experience, he has a nice personality and lots op humor. I love his books :-)