cover image Novelist as a Vocation

Novelist as a Vocation

Haruki Murakami, trans. from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen. Knopf, $28 (224p) ISBN 978-0-451-49464-1

Novelist Murakami (1Q84) reveals the tricks of the trade in this stellar essay collection, originally published in Japan in 2015. In “Are Novelists Broadminded?” he observes that “people with brilliant minds are not particularly well suited to writing novels,” while “A Completely Personal and Physical Occupation” makes a case that it’s crucial for a writer to cultivate stamina: “You have to become physically fit. You need to become robust and physically strong. And make your body your ally.” In “When I Became a Novelist” Murakami shares stories of his time at the Waseda University in Tokyo at the peak of student protests and recalls his days operating a jazz café with his wife in the mid-’70s: “We were all young then, full of ambition and energy—though, sad to say, no one was making any money to speak of.” Especially enjoyable is a mystical tale he shares about a baseball game he attended in 1978 during which “based on no grounds whatsoever, it suddenly struck me: I think I can write a novel.” Lighthearted yet edifying, the anecdotes make for a fantastic look at how a key literary figure made it happen. Murakami’s fans will relish these amusing missives. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM Partners. (Nov.)