Friday, April 02, 2010

Hello Japan! mini-challenge: March link round-up

Hello Japan!

The Hello Japan! mini-challenge for March was to read something written by, or about, the famous Japanese contemporary writer, Haruki Murakami. And now, "Murakami March", as I liked to call it, has ended, but I hope you had fun spending time last month with some of his stories. I read 4 (and a third) of his books, and little else, in March, so it was an interesting immersion in the life of one particular nameless character and the other, often unusual, characters he met along the way. The books were Hear the Wind Sing, Pinball, 1973, A Wild Sheep Chase, and Dance Dance Dance, plus Book One of The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. I haven't managed to review them, yet, but enjoyed discussing and hearing others opinions on the later two books as we discussed them here for the Japanese Literature Book Group. Click on the titles for the discussion posts.

Tony of Tony's Reading List, however, read and reviewed all 4 of the books in the Trilogy of the Rat, plus the sequel, late last year. He also pitted Haruki Murakami's After Dark against David Mitchell's number9dream. Check out his post The Master versus the Apprentice to see who he thinks comes out on top.

JoV of Bibliojunkie reviewed Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, her first Murakami!  Murakami is one of a kind. What appeals to his reader is his ability to transport his readers to another world and still stay grounded in some of the most contentious issues we as a human being struggles with on a daily basis.

Dolce Bellezza read both A Wild Sheep Chase and Dance Dance Dance to join in the discussions.  As usual, when I finish a Murakami work, I’m impressed and perplexed at the same time. I know I’ll read it again; each time I reread one of his books I find more clarity. Although I’m comforted when I read of what he’s said about Kafka on The Shore, for example; his books sometimes require your own interpretation.

Michelle at su[shu] read the short story, On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning. [T]his is a warm story that has a slight touch of sadness. It’s simple, it’s down-to-earth, it’s real. It’s all there.

Mel u of The Reading Life read some of the short stories in Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.  The stories I read in the collection were all well done, all entertaining and all made me think.

Novroz of Novroz' Favorite Things read Birthday Stories, an anthology of stories by Western writers introduced by Murakami, and includes one story by Murakami, Birthday Girl.  Overall, I find Birthday Stories as a bit unusual. I like the fact that he didn’t just choose the happiest story because most people think that birthday is one of the happiest days of one’s life…but some of the stories are to boring to read.

Kristen M. of We Be Reading read Book One of The Wind-up Bird Chronicle for the Japanese Literature Read-along. We'll be discussing Book Two on April 15th, about which she said, I am very interested to find out what happens in the rest of the story and it will be hard to wait to find out!

ibeeeg of Polishing Mud Balls also experienced Murakami for the first time, reading A Wild Sheep Chase, Dance Dance Dance, and Book One of The Wind-up Bird Chronicle for their respective discussions. She posted about The Haruki Murakami Experience and even mentions her favourite spaghetti. :)

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle Sputnik Sweetheart

gnoegnoe of Graasland also read some of the short stories in Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman PLUS a special edition of 3 short stories that have not yet been translated into English, lucky girl! (She read them in Dutch).

Velvet of vvB32 Reads experienced her first Murakami book with Sputnik Sweetheart. And she's giving away a copy, so be sure to check out her post to see how you could win.

Eva of A Striped Armchair read A Wild Sheep Chase for the discussion. I really enjoyed this novel; it was zany, but it had its own internal logic, and the writing kept me clipping along.

Teresa joined in both the Book Group selections last month.
I really enjoyed "A Wild Sheep Chase." And while I did find it perhaps not as accomplished as some other (later, of course) novels by him that I've read ("Hard-Boiled Wonderland ..." and "Wind-Up Bird ...", in particular), I still thought it was a fun, inventive, layered story with a satisfying ending.

This makes the 6th book by Murakami that I've read and it certainly won't be the last. Especially since I know "Dance Dance Dance" is on its way to me from the library! :)

Hello Japan! March Prize

Thank you to everyone who participated in the March mini-challenge, and the Japanese Literature Book Group discussions in March. Your names were entered to win a copy of either Hear the Wind Sing, or Pinball, 1973. With help from's list randomizer, the two names that came out on the top are...

ibeeeg (Polishing Mud Balls)
Michelle (su[shu])

Congratulations to the two of you! I'll be in touch, or feel free to email me, whichever happens first, to let me know which one of the two books you'd prefer. I know that these books are usually not readily available outside Japan and are therefore much coveted. I wish I could send you all a set, but if you're desperate for a copy, maybe we can work something out. A book swap or something? Anyway, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

I'll be posting about the April mini-challenge later (need some sleep right now, sorry), but to give you a clue... April will be all about celebrating spring and the much beloved sakura (cherry blossoms).

The small print:  Links in this post to Amazon contain my Associates ID.  Purchases made via these links earn me a very small commission.  For more information visit my About Page.


  1. Thanks for hosting this. I enjoyed it. Hope to participate in the next one, where possible!

  2. This was a wonderful March experience...thanks.
    I am thrilled that I won; I will email you shortly.

    Off to read what the other participants have to say...

  3. I enjoyed this challenge and definitely want to read more!

  4. I just received your email! So awesome that I won. Thanks.

    Am definitely looking forward to the mini-challenge for April.

  5. Congrats to ibeeeg & Michelle! You lucky gals!


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