On August 4, Haruki Murakami’s first two novels were released for the first time with a proper English translation. The novels, “Hear the Wind Sing” and “Pinball, 1973,” collected together under the title “Wind/Pinball”, were previously only available through roughly translated epub torrents. The books serve as a fantastic starting point for Murakami’s bibliography of weird, ephemeral fiction.
Wind / Pinball
by Haruki Murakami
Written at Murakami’s kitchen table while he operated a Tokyo jazz club, Hear the Wind Sing exemplifies the author’s command of sibylline, disaffected protagonists against the backdrop of slim, haunting stories. The plot is propelled by Murakami’s characters, who careen through their post-collegiate lives without affect or attachment, their feelings and emotions conveyed through dialogue and bare descriptions. Murakami exercises a Hemingway-esque glacial approach to the plot, letting the action flow organically and mysteriously to a moving conclusion.
The classic Murakami magical realism doesn’t come on full display until Pinball, 1973, which features a bizarre set of twins, funerals for inanimate objects, and a warehouse of whirring, manic pinball machines. It’s Murakami meets Marquez in this dreamlike sequel to Hear the Wind Sing, as the author treat the magnificent and the mundane with equal emotional weight, ultimately revealing the depth and truth beneath each.
These two books form the first of Murakami’s “Trilogy of the Rat” (followed by A Wild Sheep Chase), and highlight the beginnings of a true auteur who would go on to create such masterworks as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Kafka on the Shore. Wind/Pinball weighs in at under 250 pages–a day’s read for some, and well worth the time. If you’re interested in getting started with this modern master of the magical, pick up a copy.