Novelist Haruki Murakami talks about the supernatural and punching people in the face

Haruki Murakami

When asked if he ever gets the urge to punch people in the face, novelist Haruki Murakami replies, “It doesn’t happen to me in my actual life. But in my dreams, sometimes I get so angry that I hit some stranger (it’s always a stranger, not somebody I know). It doesn’t happen often … I suppose we need to release those urges, only in our fantasies, from time to time.”

The bestselling author has been answering fans’ questions on a special website for the past couple of months. He’s been taking questions and comments on pretty much everything and his answers have ranged from mundane to profound.

An Irish woman asked him if he had any recommendations for Japanese folklore stories to read and he replied, “It is not Japanese folklore I use when I write my stories. I use my own fantasies and imaginations stocked in the basement of my mind. In the meantime, you have your own fantasies and imaginations stocked in the basement of your mind. And, I suppose, our fantasies and imaginations have many mutual parts. I am Japanese and you are Irish. But still, we have many things in common in the basement of our minds. I think that is the true meaning of writing and reading.”

When asked how his characters seem so well able to deal with loneliness he says, “I believe that they have got accustomed to being by themselves. Sometimes, I suppose, they may feel lonely, but they know they have to be strong. The world is tough and life is not easy at all. I know it, you know it, they know it. Complaining and grieving don’t lessen the hardness of life. Most of my protagonist are seeking love. They try to be strong and to love somebody sincerely, sometimes desperately. They know that love is the only exit they can find to get away from the total loneliness. No complaining, no grieving.”

When asked about what he’d like people to take away from his books he says, “My books are an open text entirely. You can interpret it any way you like, or you can leave it uninterpreted. My book is just like a sunset or snowfall. You don’t have to take away any meaning from a sunset or snowfall, do you? But if you do need some meanings, it’s up to you. In any case, enjoy reading. That is the main thing.”

Almost all of his novels have something supernatural about them and he writes about believing in the fantastic when he’s writing, “What I am doing when I am writing stories and novels is to see the landscape of ANOTHER WORLD and describe it. You may call it IMAGINATION if you want. But I’d rather call it an ACCURATE DESCRIPTION of things, for I am actually seeing it before my eyes, not imagining it. In order to do that, of course you have to go to ANOTHER WORLD in the first place, I can do that. I guess you can do it if you believe in it and try hard.”

You can read more of his answers at this link. The site is in Japanese but if you go down to the bottom right corner of that page, there’s a symbol you can click on which will take you to the next page. Keep clicking that to go through the answers and you’ll a good few in English.