Japanese Literature and Historical Fiction Audiobooks
Born in 1948 in Kyoto, Murakami is one of the greatest Japanese bestselling fiction authors to date. His novel Norwegian Wood published in 1987 marked an international break-through and a wide audience started reading his works. Because his immense popularity in Japan he ‘fled’ to New York. The Kobe earthquake and the Tokyo gas attack (see 'Underground') made him decide to return back to Japan.
In Murakami’s novels transitions between real and surreal dimensions occur, characters slip through portals, take elevators and stairs or climb down wells to find themselves in kafkaesque surrealistic worlds.
Aomame and Tengo were once classmates but haven’t seen each other for years. Now in 1984, both nearly 30 years old, Aomame is a fitness instructor and an assassin of men who have violently abused their wives. Tengo is a math teacher and a not so successful writer. One day, Aomame get’s out of a taxi to take an emergency staircase leading down from the city expressway. Then she enters a parallel existence, one that is nearly identical to the ordinary world of 1984 except that it has two moons in the sky. This world Aomame calls 1Q84, whereby Q stands for ‘question mark. In the world of 1Q84 Tengo and Aoname have a special mysterious bond.
Tengo is asked to rewrite the story 'Air Chrysalis', once written by Fuka-Eri, who fled a religious cult named Sakigake. At the same time Aomame accepts the assignment to kill the leader of Sakigake. The publication of Tengo’s book and Aomame’s murder assignment brings them in a world of danger that they never could have foreseen.
1q84 - Haruki Murakami and Alison Hiroto, Marc Vietor 2014
Kafka, a boy of 15 years old is fleeing his father, a man whose malevolence takes the form of a prophecy: Kafka, he predicts, will kill his father and sleep with his mother and his older sister, both of whom vanished when Kafka was four. After a series of adventures, he finds shelter in a library in Takamatsu, run by Miss Saeki and Oshima. There he spends his time reading books until the police begins inquiring after him in connection with a brutal murder.
The story of Kafka is interwoven with the story of the eldery man Nakata who never recovered from a wartime affliction. Nakata has lost all his memories, his ability to read and write, and most of his intelligence, but he acquired the art to talk to cats. In his job as a finder of strayed household felines, Nakata is coerced by Kafka's father into stabbing him to death.
Kafka on the Shore - Haruki Murakami and Sean Barrett, Oliver Le Sueur 2013
It is the 20th of March 20, 1995 when a man drops a plastic bag to the floor and punctures it, releasing a deadly nerve gas. At the same time, on other trains four members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult do the same. The Tokyo gas attack left 12 people dead and thousands injured.
In the first part of the book Murakami interviews victims from this terroris attack, from a subway authority employee with survivor guilt, to a clothes salesman. The different stories from these survivors are not only giving a clear picture of the incident itself, but also of the lives and mentality of the Japanese commuters, the important role of work in Japanese society and the role played by the media.
The second part of the book consists of interviews with members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult and tries to explain why they did not question their master’s orders and resorted to terrorism.