Tuesday, October 31, 2006

My Favorite Living Japanese Writer's Honored

Haruki Murakami receives Franz Kafka literary prize
PRAGUE (AP) Author Haruki Murakami was in Prague on Monday to receive a prestigious Czech literary prize.

Murakami was chosen in March by an international jury that includes prominent German literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki and British publisher John Calder to win the annual Franz Kafka Prize, the Franz Kafka Society said.

The award, a small statue of Kafka by Czech artist Jaroslav Rona and a cash prize of $ 10,000, was established by the society in 2001. Murakami was to receive it at a ceremony at City Hall.

It is awarded to "authors whose works of exceptional artistic qualities are found to appeal to readers regardless of their origin, nationality and culture, just as the works of Franz Kafka," the society said.

A former jazz bar manager, Murakami burst onto Japan's literary scene in 1987 with a hugely popular experiment with realism, "Norwegian Wood."

Since then, the writer has won acclaim as well as a huge following both in Japan and abroad. His works have been translated into some 35 languages, including Czech.

His "Kafka on the Shore," a fable of magical realism about a 15-year-old runaway, was selected as one of the 10 best books of 2005 by The New York Times.

Murakami has also penned works of nonfiction, including a book based on interviews with victims of the 1995 deadly nerve gas attack in Tokyo, and has translated works by Raymond Carver, Truman Capote, John Irving and J.D. Salinger.

Murakami is the sixth recipient of the award. Past winners include Philip Roth of the U.S., Ivan Klima of the Czech Republic and Peter Nadas of Hungary. In the last two years, Austrian novelist, playwright and poet Elfriede Jelinek and British playwright Harold Pinter were chosen for the prize shortly before they won the Nobel Prize for literature.

-- from The Japan Times.

Now I urge you to read his books. They're jazzy, funny and modern. Start with his short stories in Elephant Vanishes and from there if you like him, try Norwegian Wood or Wild Sheep Chase.

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