One of our favorite authors is Haruki Murakami.  Back in about 1995, Agnes and I were in Wordsworth bookstore in Harvard Square and Agnes showed me a book called "A Wild Sheep Chase" by Haruki Murakami.  She had read a number of short stories from Murakami in the New Yorker magazine, and thought that this novel might be good.

We read the opening passage to see if we might enjoy it.


It was a short one-paragraph item in the morning edition. A friend range me up and read it to me. Nothing special. Something a rookie reporter fresh out of college might've written for practice.

The date, a street corner, a person driving a truck, a pedestrian, a casualty, an investigation of possible negligence.

Sounded like one of those poems on the inner flap of a magazine.

"Where's the funeral?" I asked.

"You got me," he said. "Did she even have a family?"

We bought the book that day, and since then we've bought everything he's published.

Among his books that we recommend are:

"The Wind-up Bird Chronicle" is his biggest, most ambitious book, and we know a number of people who list it as their favorite book.  If you read this book first, you might find the other books to be a bit of a let-down as the other stories are shorter and less complex.  We suggest you start with "A Wild Sheep Chase" and continue with its sequel "Dance, Dance, Dance" before reading "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle". "The Elephant Vanishes" is a collection of short stories.

One very early Murakami book, called "Pinball, 1973", is out of print and he has allowed it to be put in the public domain on a fan's website.  We've included a copy here, with the understanding that the story can be freely posted.  If this is not the case, please contact me as soon as possible.  It's an early work, and Murakami was still finding his writing voice, but it's still enjoyable.

Here's another excerpt, this time from the opening of "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle".

When the phone rang I was in the kitchen, boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along with an FM broadcast of the overture to Rossini's The Thieving Magpie, which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta.

I wanted to ignore the phone, not only because the spaghetti was nearly done, but because Claudio Abbado was brining the London Symphony to its musical climax.  Finally, though, I had to give in.  It could have been somebody with news of a  job opening.  I lowered the flame, and went to the living room, and picked up the receiver.

We hope you try out his books.