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.