I used to own every single Haruki Murakami novel and short story collection in paperback. But when I went to my bookshelf a few weeks ago, I realized that I only had two left. The rest had been borrowed and never returned, which either says a lot about Murakami’s popularity or the kind of company kept by Murakami fans like myself.
But as much as I’ve enjoyed Murakami’s novels — some of them even multiple times — the relationship has always been ambiguous. Murakami’s widespread appeal is easy to understand but tough to pin down. His novels are intricate and ambiguous, yet extremely readable and never short on dry wit. Murakami’s characters inhabit strange realities and fascinating mental spaces. The covers designed by Chip Kidd certainly don’t hurt.