Volume: Haruki Murakami: Challenging Authors
Proposals due: May 15, 2015
Email to firstname.lastname@example.org 100-word chapter proposal, 50-word author(s) bio(s), contact information, and 8 key words by above due date.
Accepted chapter notified: June 30, 2015
Accepted chapters due: October 31, 2015
Final draft submission: December 15, 2015
Japanese writer Haruki Murakami has achieved a rare status among writers—incredible popularity in his native country and world-wide as well as rising critical acclaim. Murakami, in fact, in addition to receiving most of the major literary awards in Japan, as well as many around the world, has been nominated several times for the Nobel Prize, and is likely to be Japan’s next Nobel laureate in literature. At the same time, his relationship with the Japanese literary community proper (known as the Bundan) has not been a particularly friendly one.
Writing about Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Matthew Carl Strecher (2014) notes that one of Murakami’s central and enduring themes is a persistent warning not to suppress our fundamental desires in favor of the demands of society at large. And while Murakami’s writing over his career reveals some recurring motifs, his message has also evolved, creating a catalogue of works that reveal Murakami to be a challenging author.
Many of those challenges lie in Murakami’s blurring of genre as well as his rich blending of Japanese and Western mythologies and styles—all while continuing to offer narratives that attract and captivate a wide range of readers. A highly challenging author, Murakami is, as Ōe Kenzaburō once contended, not a “Japanese writer” so much as a global one, and as such, he merits a central place in the classroom in order to confront readers and students, but also to be challenged as well.
This volume seeks to offer 15-20 chapters examining Murakami against the problems of genre and form, within cultural and national ideologies and mythologies, and spurred by the tensions that arise from being both popular and critically acclaimed.
Analyzing and considering teaching Murakami through the lenses of critical pedagogy and literacy offers another layer of complexity to the Murakami phenomenon and expands the scope of this series significantly, notably in the context of Freire (2005):
One of the violences perpetuated by illiteracy is the suffocation of the consciousness and the expressiveness of men and women who are forbidden from reading and writing, thus limiting their capacity to write about their reading of the world so they can rethink about their original reading of it. (p. 2)
Reading, teaching, and studying Murakami serves well the goal of rethinking this world. It will open new lines of inquiry into what constitutes national literatures, and how some authors, in the era of blurred national and cultural boundaries, seek now to transcend those boundaries and pursue a truly global mode of expression.
Freire, P. (2005). Teachers as cultural workers: Letters to those who dare to teach. (D. Macedo, D. Koike, & A. Oliveira, Trans.). Boulder, CO: Westview.
Strecher, M.C. (2014). The forbidden worlds of Haruki Murakami. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.