The spirit of Murakami comes to Wichita at midnight

The spirit of Murakami comes to Wichita at midnight

What: Midnight release of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
When: 11 p.m., Monday, Aug. 11
How much: $25.95
Where: Watermark Books, 4701 E. Douglas

Haruki Murakami is an internationally respected author with more than a dozen books translated into English, and quite a few more that have yet to be. Murakami, who shouldn't be confused (as I did, initially) with fellow Japanese novelist Ryu Murakami, has written novels, short stories and non-fiction, such as his 2000 book Underground, about the 1995 sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway, as well as essays and books about his experiences as a long-distance runner. His latest novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, officially releases Tuesday, Aug. 12, and Watermark Books, 4701 E. Douglas, is hosting a midnight release event on Monday, Aug. 11, where you can be among the very first to purchase it.

According to Rebekah Rine, Inventory Manager for Watermark and a longtime student of Murakami's, his novels have had more of an impact in the English speaking literary world than his other work, though his short stories are quite good. Much of this impact can be attributed to his sometimes lyrical surrealism.

"You can be sucked into a whole different universe. It's almost like being in a dream," Rine said. He often includes references to American jazz music, of which he is a longtime fan.

Murakami is reminiscent of another author who also wrote originally in a language other than English, and, yet had a broad impact on the worldwide literary community, and who also trafficked in surrealism: Jorge Luis Borges. Similarly to Borges, Murakami has not received a Nobel Prize in Literature, at least not yet, though the subject is often discussed.

Murakami's current novel is a coming of age story about the eponymous Tsukuru Tazaki, whose group of friends all have names that correspond to a color, while his does not.

This is a much more accessible book than some of his previous, says Rine. His work can sometimes be quite dense, such as his three volume, 928 page epic 1Q84. If one were looking for a good entry point to Murakami's work, or Japanese literature in general, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki could be a good place to start.

The book itself is handsomely designed, and Watermark will have a very limited number of signed, first edition copies for sale at the midnight release event only. Doors open at 11 p.m. on Monday, and snacks and prizes will also be available. There will also be live readings of favorite short passages from Murakami's previous works. If you have such a passage in mind and would like to participate, you can email to sign up.