Sunday, June 24, 2018

Ranking Haruki Murakami's novels

I don't read a lot of contemporary authors, but one who I read regularly is Haruki Murakami. He has a singular writing style and authorial voice that comes through clear in the translations (most are translated by one of two translators so there is a lot of consistency there). His plots, stories, characters, and purpose are also pretty unique, particularly compared to American/European authors. He's someone I highly recommend. In honor of having just finished his 1982 novel "A Wild Sheep Chase" yesterday night, I figured I'd do a quick ranking of his novels which I've read.

Warning: I haven't read all his works, so this is a list only of those that I've actually read. I'll update it as I read more of his novels.

#1 - The Wind Up Bird Chronicle - 9/10 ("Essential") - His masterpiece, bar none. A combination of two timelines, an existential journey, amazing characters, incredible prose. Simply stunning. This is a book that should be considered part of the eternal pantheon of great novels that will transcend generations. See my favorite novels page for more.

#2 - Kafka on the Shore - 7/10 ("Recommended") - Similar to The Wind Up Bird Chronicle in that its two overlapping  stories, however, here they occur in the same time-frame. One of his most well-respected works.  Just not as transcendent as Wind Up Bird

#3 - Norwegian Wood - 7/10 ("Recommended") - A haunting story of love and loss and love. Another of his classics.  Might deserve a higher rating. I'll read it again sometime and reconsider.

#4 - IQ84 - 7/10 ("Recommended") - In some senses this is a real tour-de-force and the best of what he does, yet it doesn't quite have the depth of "The Wind Up Bird Chronicle." A time and dimension shifting story with a bad-ass female lead (about time already!) that starts with a staircase on the highway.It's hard not putting this higher.

#5 - A Wild Sheep Chase - 7/10 ("Recommended") - I was really surprised how much I liked this. It was a fast read, told in first person (which I like in his style) with a lead character you feel so comfortable with. It's a mystery and a journey and both more straightforward than many of his works while still retaining some of his trademark existentialism. The only thing keeping this from being an 8 is that I think I had a slightly cooler ending in mind as I was reading, not that his was bad, but I liked mine! :)

#6 - Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage - 6/10 ("Read with Reservations") - this was sort of forgettable in that I actually had to go back to the synopsis in wikipedia to remember it, even though I had the book in front of me and was trying to skim it to evoke remembrance. It's okay, it's his style, it's just not great is all. Certainly not a waste of time or anything and if you like his style, you won't go wrong, but you've got at least 5 better ones to start with if you're new to him.

#7 - Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World - 5/10 ("Maybe not worth your time") - This is another one I think I should reread. It's very different than many of the others above in that it's the least realistic with lots of fantastical elements. Unfortunately, it's also one that didn't stick in my mind real clearly, other than a few of the images, particularly the underground tunnels. Maybe 5 is too low, because its way better than most novels out there, but somehow it suffers in comparison to the rest of his oeuvre.

I'll update this list as I read more of his works! Let me know what you think in the comments.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Remember: please talk about the work, and offer counter points to others' analyses but DO NOT ATTACK THE PERSON whose analysis you are countering. (no ad hominem comments) Thanks! <3