The internationally best-selling author and famously reclusive writer shares with readers what he thinks about being a novelist; his thoughts on the role of the novel in our society; his own origins as a writer; and his musings on the sparks of creativity that inspire other writers, artists, and musicians.
The collection is eccentric, meandering, self-deprecating. This is no bombastic tome or loftily impassioned defense of fiction; it’s a generally charming excursion through the mind of one of the world’s most beloved novelists ... Murakami traffics in rather weakly analyzed platitudes about writers and their personalities ... The strongest essays are those that bring us into Murakami’s own idiosyncratic disposition, his unlikely career path, and his odd routines and requirements as a writer ... It isn’t a book that I’d assign to my writing students or use myself as a source of tips and tricks. It works best as a fascinating backstage pass to Murakami’s process and approach to creating fiction.
Assured, candid and often — never meet your heroes, they say — deeply irritating ... The sublime tension of Murakami’s work is that his writing is simple and open...while the world it depicts gets only more mystifying ... In its strongest passages, ably translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goosen, Novelist as a Vocation shares these qualities of transparency and deep thought ... But aside from these rare moments, the book makes for a weird, cranky document. Its chapters focus on subjects that should be useful...yet each somehow collapses in on Murakami’s experience, leaving only traces of practical advice, and a narrator who seems at once proud, complacent, tone-deaf and aggrieved ... The conundrum here is that Murakami’s generosity of spirit is such a central part of his fiction. Perhaps the difficulty is that this is a book full of prosaic explanations, unleavened by vision.
If an aspiring storyteller were to pick up Haruki Murakami’s Novelist as a Vocation...expecting a step-by-step guide to putting a novel together, they may well be disappointed. However, what Murakami’s memoir does offer is certainly of equal value. It is one novelist looking back over his life and career in an attempt to better understand the many fragments that make up the whole of his success, with a great deal of introspection, self-deprecation, and dispelling of myths along the way ... Pensive ... The tone of the book is intimate, yet unadorned and straightforward in the style Murakami has come to be known for. He engages with personal disappointments, misunderstandings perpetuated by the public, and his own earlier hopes and dreams in an appealingly honest way. There are also a few curveballs ... Murakami has more than a few nuggets of insight to share.