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Japanese author Haruki Murakami back at his whimsical best with latest collection


By Hector MacKenzie

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First Person Singular.
First Person Singular.

BOOK REVIEW

First Person Singular by Haruki Murakami

Harvill Secker

£16.99 (hardback)

ONCE you've caught the bug, there's no escaping the lifelong impact of Japanese writer Haruki Murakami.

If you're new to the best-selling author of Norwegian Wood, Kafka on the Shore and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, his dreamlike tales are a treat yet to savour.

The prolific and versatile writer has also impressed a whole new audience with non-fiction works like What I Talk About When I Talk About Running and Absolutely on Music, a a reflection of his diverse interests which also include T-shirts (the latter subject of a forthcoming work due towards the end of this year).

While he mines his love of baseball, music and jazz for some of the short stories in First Person Singular (With the Beatles; The Yakult Swallows Poetry Collection; Charlie Parker Plays Bossa Nova) prepare too for his eccentric, winning way with talking animals (Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey) that will be familiar to regular readers already hooked on Murakami.

Is it memoir of fiction? With Murakami you can never be quite sure, though it's hard not to read much of it as at least semi-autobiographical. The important thing is that it's always eminently readable, regardless the artistic license he may or may not have taken. When he draws on personal experience, the author always managed to make his material relatable, whether it be through the eyes of the fan of the team that (almost) always loses or the grown man looking back on first love.

Haruki Murakami. Picture: Elena Siebert
Haruki Murakami. Picture: Elena Siebert

Murakami here adds to the ever-growing, rich array of quirky, lovable characters he has created down the years in a collection that gets better the deeper you delve into it. An understanding of what it is to be young – and old – permeates many of the pages of a satisfying collection that shows the author's uncanny knack of translating flights of fancy into entertaining yarns and unforgettable characters.

@HecMackenzie

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