Japanese culture is homogenous, inward- looking, and must be protected against outsiders. When he wrote his first novel in English it was interpreted by literary Japan as highly provocative. Hence most of his books are first written in Japanese before being translated into English and other languages.
“…I consider the plot totally pointless. The author starts a long series of circles without really closing many.”
“The scenes which were supposed to be funny didn’t interest me at all and ultimately struck me as dark and disturbing.”
“It all felt so desperately unresolved towards the end of the story.”
“There’s little to love here, but there is also little to hate.”
Despite the numerous negative reviews on his books, Murakami continues to write in his unique style. In fact, his unique writing style is the element that attracts numerous international readers.
As someone originally from Kobe, the Great Hanshin Earthquake hugely impacted Murakami. Despite being the type to avoid writing about more controversial topics, Murakami wrote the books "After the Quake"and "Underground" as a form of commemeration for these two disasters.
Murakami’s new story collection, “After the Quake,” speaks intimately to readers in the post-Sept. 11 world. Its six fictions are linked by the Great Hanshin Earthquake that struck Kobe and surrounding areas in January 1995, and by the Aum Shinrikyo sarin attacks in Tokyo that March. The book has a healing, meditative power that prompted one U.S. reviewer to call it “close to flawless,” and another to identify it as Murakami’s “get-well card.”
In "Underground" Murakami interviewed numerous victims of the attack in order to produce the violence in nature and human beings in his book: "The shock I felt when I interviewed the victims of the Sarin attack for “Underground” changed my life, my entire point of view, and even my style of writing. I didn’t imagine that such a thing could happen."
Both of these events explore the way memory of the traumatic event can interact with personality to create something that is deeply personal to the point where it is difficult for others to discern what actually happened.