Great to see a literary event with this level of excitement:
At midnight in London, and the same time next week in America, bookshops will open their doors to sell Haruki Murakami’s latest novel to eager fans. This is not Harry Potter, it’s a 1,600-page translation from Japanese. So why the excitement?
When Haruki Murakami’s new book, 1Q84, was released in Japanese two years ago, most of the print-run sold out in just one day – the country’s largest bookshop, Kinokuniya, sold more than one per minute. A million copies went in the first month.
In France, publishers printed 70,000 copies in August but had to reprint within a week. The book is already on the top 20 list of online booksellers Amazon.com – hence the plans for midnight openings in the UK and across the US from New York to Seattle.
“The last time we did this was for Harry Potter,” says Miriam Robinson of Foyles, just one of the bookshops in London opening at midnight for the launch. “It’s hard to find a book that merits that kind of an event.”
We often wonder what it would have been like if 9/11had never happened — or at least if that plan had not succeeded so perfectly. Then the world would have been very different from what it is now. America might have had a different president (a major possibility), and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars might never have happened (an even greater possibility).
Let’s call the world we actually have now Reality A and the world that we might have had if 9/11 had never happened Reality B. Then we can’t help but notice that the world of Reality B appears to be realer and more rational than the world of Reality A. To put itin different terms, we are living a world that has an even lower level of reality than the unreal world. What can we possibly call this if not “chaos”?
What kind of meaning can fiction have in an age like this? What kind of purpose can it serve? In an age when reality is insufficiently real, how much reality can a fictional story possess?
Inception seems to owe more than a little to Philip K. Dick’s reality-bending sci-fi yarns. In Maze of Death, which takes place in a world in which god seems to be an objectively real entity, several down-and-out misfits are assigned to work on a harsh, mostly uninhabited planet. But after losing radio contact with their employer they find themselves stranded without even knowing what their assignment is.
Japanese author Haruki Murakami is a master of writing surreal, dream-like novels. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World revolves around a “calcutec,” who uses his brain as a type of encrypted storage. Companies hire him to store securely store trade secrets. Until, of course, something goes wrong.
I thought of Inception initially as a Dickian film, but my friend Ian pointed out it’s actually more of a Gibsonian film. Neuromancer, Gibson’s first novel, is a heist story taking place in virtual reality. Inception fans should feel right at home.
I think that it’s actually connected to “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.” I wanted to write a sequel 15 years ago, but I gave up. But I feel like “Kafka on the Shore” is connected to that book on a deeper level. Two parallel stories combine in the end. The structure is similar. And the theme of both books is a story of two different worlds, consciousness and unconsciousness. Most of us are living in those two worlds, one foot in one or the other, and all of us are living on the borderline. That’s my definition of human life. The title is about the borderline of land and sea, living and dead.