Novelist as a Vocation
By Haruki Murakami
Translated by Philip Gabriel & Ted Goossen
Knopf, 9780451494641, November2022, 224pp.
The Short of It:
Fans of Murakami will enjoy this personal look at writing from his point of view.
The Rest of It:
If you’ve been around me for awhile then you know how much I love Murakami. I wait around, endlessly for new books to be translated and when they are, I have been known to beg and plead for a review copy. This was no exception.
Novelist as a Vocation is a collection of short essays about how he came to be a novelist. It touches on process but it’s more about the internal dialogue he had with himself about becoming a writer. One day, he just decided he was going to write a novel. He didn’t feel all that equipped to do so but he was a dedicated reader, and knew what he liked to read and felt that he had stories to tell. That’s it.
Some of his earlier works were not a big hit, at first. His short fiction pieces that were published in the New York Times is what made his name known in literary circles and from there, his fan base grew. His odd characters and fantastical story elements have found a place in my heart His writing is what I call a “palate cleanser”. I read all types of books but when I need a reset, I reach for Murakami. I often have to settle for a re-read since the translation process usually means books are about 3-4 years apart.
I was surprised at how much he shares in this new book. He is usually pretty private. An everyday guy, doing everyday things, who just happens to be an award winning author but he lets us in with this one. As readers we see his insecurities at play. I do believe that being vulnerable is what makes his stories so unique. His imagination and character development have no boundaries. I love this about him.
If you are curious about Murakami and have never read one of his novels, pick up Kafka on the Shore or The Windup Bird Chronicle. These two books will give you a very good idea of his writing style. After that, you will want to know more about him as a novelist. That’s where Novelist as a Vocation comes in. Recommend.
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
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6 thoughts on “Review: Novelist as a Vocation”
Great Ti. It’s interesting that he wrote this book – he seems usually very private. I have still yet to read him — though 2023 must be the year for my first. Maybe Norwegian Wood or Kafka on the Shore. I like how you are such a fan of his.
I agree, Ti; I think it’s the vulnerability in his writing that makes him such a powerful writer.
I’ve never read anything by Hurakami (terrible, I know) but as a fan this one must have been super interesting.
I’ve only read one book by him which was What I Talk About When I Talk About Running but I loved it and meant to read more. Then Covid hit and my reading dropped to almost non exsistent. I plan on reading more from him in ’23.
I was surprised when COVID affected my reading as much as it did. I could not read while down. Felt nauseous. So I can relate. My goal this year was short by 25 books. Geesh!
I love books from writers about their styles and writing. Novelist as a Vocation sounds like something I would find interesting.