Haruki Murakami is not only a great writer, but also of considerable interest from the perspective of a collector. I will focus here on his books published in English, in particular in Japan, the USA (where he is currently based) and the UK. His early novels were first published in English in Japan, mainly for the benefit of Japanese readers learning English as a second language. As he became better known in the West, his books were in general first published in the USA. However, in recent years the UK versions have often been published in signed limited editions as well as trade editions, and these represent some of the most attractive of Murkami's books to the collector. This is particularly the case because his signature (in English or Japanese) is relatively difficult to obtain. Murakami has been widely tipped to win the Nobel prize for Literature in recent years. Although this has not yet happened he has won many other major literary prizes.
Pinball, 1973 (1980) - novel, Kodansha English Library 1985 (translated by Alfred Birnbaum). The first English language edition of Murakami's second book and the second book in the "Trilogy of the Rat," following Hear the Wind Sing (see below)and preceding The Wild Sheep Chase. A small, pocket-sized paperback in a series intended to allow Japanese readers to read Japanese books in English; the notes in the back -- themselves an unusual feature in a book of fiction -- translate English colloquialisms into Japanese characters. The later Californian University Press fascimile is relatively cheap, but an original copy with its wraparound belly band will be difficult to find.
Hear the Wind Sing (1979) - Tokyo, Kodansha English Library 1987 (translated by Alfred Birnbaum). Murakami's first novel and first volume of the "Trilogy of the Rat", but the second to be published published in English. The true first printing of this book is extremely uncommon, and has the following points: "First edition, 1987" stated on copyright page and no further printings indicated, the numbers 62, 2, 20 and 1 on the last page (indicating year - the 62th year in the reign of Hirohito - month, day and printing), price 450 yen on back, yellow color on back, ISBN number 4-06-186026-7. It is very easy to find recent printings of this book at a low price on the Net, but genuine first printings are few and far between. Some copies on sale as first editions do not meet all of these issue points, so caution is required as a purchaser.
A Wild Sheep Chase (1982) - Kodansha America, 1989. UK edition, Hamish Hamilton, 1990. Both hardcovers in dustwrapper. The final volume of the "Trilogy of the Rat", again translated by Alfred Birnbaum. The narrator, identified only by a pronoun, is an ordinary man. Thirty years old, he has no ambition and little purpose. Enter into his lackluster life a young woman, apparently ordinary as well but with ears so gorgeous that all conversation stops when they are unveiled; a right-wing Mr.Big with a golfball-sized blood cyst in his brain who's unaccountably been spared standing trial as a Class A war criminal; a sinister, all-efficient lieutenant with beautiful hands and a degree from Stanford; and a brilliant professor permanently sidetracked by an animal experience that in forty-two years has not dimmed in significance. Inexorably, all are impelled into the bizarre pursuit of a dream-induced sheep. But this is no ordinary sheep -with a star on its back, eyes as clear as spring water, and a near-irresistible spiritual allure, the sheep embodies a perverse Nietzchean will to absolute power.
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (1985) - Kodansha International, New York, 1991. UK edition, Hamish Hamilton, 1991. Both hardcovers in dustwrapper. Translated by Alfred Birnbaum. A fnatasy about a split-brained data processor, a deranged scientist, his shockingly undemure granddaughter, and various thugs, librarians, and subterranean monsters--not to mention Bob Dylan and Lauren Bacall. Chapters alternate between two separate worlds, which it eventually becomes clear are inexorably linked.
Norwegian Wood (1987) - a nostalgic story of loss and sexuality, and the novel which catapulted Murakami to stardom in Japan. Published in two volumes, a red volume and a green volume. Initially translated by Alfred Birnbaum and published by the Kodansha English Library in Japan (1989). Subsequently translated by Jay Rubin (2000) and published by Vintage International as a single paperback in the USA. The UK version was published by the Harvill Press as two volumes (red and green) in a gold box. In addition, there was a Harvill Press limited edition of 500 copies (red and green - the same as the unlimited edition) in a metal box with a card numbered and signed by Murakami. There is another edition easily confused with the Harvill unlimited edition - two volumes, red and green, in a gold box published by Ted Smart (a UK based book club).
Dance Dance Dance (1988) - Kodansha International, 1994, as a hardcover. UK edition a paperback original (Hamish Hamilton) from the same year. Translated by Alfred Birnbaum. At thirty something, Murakami's nameless hero lives in a hi-tech, high-rise world where old virtues die fast and success is all that matters. He has shared in the glittering city's spoils, and while he has not sold his soul, he knows that something is lacking in his life. Now, in dreams, a mysterious woman weeps softly -- for him. Yet, even as he tries to understand why, the voice that beckons is not hers. Bizarre dreams that propel him down byways of his life in search of something. A thirteen-year-old girl, distressingly beautiful and clairvoyant, is his constant companion; a classmate, now oozing charm on TV soaps, grapples with murder; a lady of the night becomes his guardian angel; and an eccentric Sheep Man materializes to counsel and cajole.
South of the Border, West of the Sun (1992) - Knopf, USA, 1999, hardcover with dustwrapper, translated by Philip Gabriel. However, the publisher also issued signed copies, reportedly less than 100, and arguabl;y Murakami's first limited edition. Several points distinguish this edition from the regular trade edition, although it also appears to exist in different states: the regular edition has red lettering on the spine & a round blind stamping on the front board, while the signed edition has either light violet or red lettering on the spine & a coloured decal on the front board, but was issued without dustwrapper. The regular edition has no front fly leaf immediately after the front free endpaper, instead the author's backlist follows immediately; the signed edition has the front fly leaf but only at the front and not at the rear. This is due to the publisher sending out the sheets to be signed by the author and subsequently having them bound in during the printing process. The author signed in black ink or blue ink "H. Murakami" (an old style signature). Harvill UK paperback, 1999. Growing up in the suburbs in post-war Japan, it seemed to Hajime that everyone but him had brothers and sisters. His sole companion was Shimamoto, also an only child. Together they spent long afternoons listening to her father's record collection. But when his family moved away, the two lost touch. Now Hajime is in his thirties. After a decade of drifting he has found happiness with his loving wife and two daughters, and success running a jazz bar. Then Shimamoto reappears. She is beautiful, intense, enveloped in mystery. Hajime is catapulted into the past, putting at risk all he has in the present.
The Elephant Vanishes - Knopf, New York, 1993 (hardcover). Hamish Hamilton, UK paperback, 1993. The first volume of Murakami's short stories to be published in English. Murakami has always placed considerable value on the short story, and is widely acknowledged as a master of this form. Many of his short stories have been published in English initially in periodicals or newspapers, and may subsequently appear in a collection. However, others have appeared for the first time in the collected form. Translated by Alfred Birnbaum in some cases and Jay Rubin in others.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1994) – Knopf, New York, 1997 (hardcover), translated by Jay Rubin; Harvill, London, softcover, 1998. Perhaps Murakami’s masterpiece (so far!). Toru Okada is going through a difficult time. He is without a job, his cat has disappeared and his wife is behaving strangely. Into this unbalanced world, come a variety of curious characters, a young girl sunbathing in a nearby garden, sisters who are very peculiar indeed, an old war veteran with a violent, disturbing story. Okada retreats to a deep well in a nearby house. And the story unfolds.
Underground – The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche (1997/8) – Harvill, London, hardcover, 2000, translated by Alfred Birnbaum and Philip Gabriel; Vintage softcover, USA, 2001. An account of the Tokyo subway gas attack in 1995, in which 12 people died, as told to Haruki Murakami by surviving victims and members and ex-members of the doomsday cult responsible.
Sputnik Sweetheart(1999) – Knopf, New York, 2001 (hardcover), translated by Philip Gabriel; Harvill, London, softcover 2001. Twenty two year old Sumire is in love for the first time with a woman seventeen years her senior. But whereas Miu is a glamorous and successful older woman with a taste for classical music and fine wine, Sumire is an aspiring writer who dresses in an oversized second hand coat and heavy boots like a character in a Jack Kerouac novel. Surprised that she might, after all, be a lesbian, Sumire spends hours on the phone talking to her best friend K. about the big questions in life: what is sexual desire and should she ever tell Miu how she feels about her? K, a primary school teacher, is used to answering questions, but what he most wants to say to Sumire is "I love you." He consoles himself by having an affair with the mother of one of his pupils. But when a desperate Miu calls him out of the blue from a sunny Greek island and asks for his help, he soon discovers that all is not as it seems and something very strange has happened to Sumire.
after the quake Harvill, UK hardcover, (trans. Jay Rubin, 2002); Vintage softcover, USA, 2002. The economy was booming. People had more money than they knew what to do with. And then the earthquake struck. Komura's wife follows the TV reports from morning to night, without eating or sleeping. The same images appear again and again: flames, smoke, buildings turned to rubble, their inhabitants dead, cracks in the streets, derailments, crashes, collapsed expressways, crushed subways, fires everywhere. Pure hell. Suddenly a city seems a fragile thing. And life too. Tomorrow anything could happen. For the characters in Murakami's latest short story collection, the Kobe earthquake is an echo from a past they buried long ago. Satsuki has spent 30 years hating one man: a lover who destroyed her chances of having children, and who now lives in Kobe. Did her desire for revenge cause the earthquake? Junpei's estranged parents also live in Kobe. Should he contact them? Miyake left his family in Kobe to make midnight bonfires on a beach hundreds of miles away. Four-year-old Sala has nightmares that the Eathquake man is trying to stuff her inside a little box. Katagiri returns home to find a giant frog in his apartment on a mission to save Tokyo from a massive worm burrowing under the Tokyo Security Trust Bank. "When he gets angry, he causes earthquakes" says Frog. "And right now he is very, very angry.
Kafka on the Shore (2002) – translated Philip Gabriel. Knopf, USA, hardcover, 2005. The Harvill Press, London, also published a trade edition in 2005. However, in addition there was a signed limited edition of 1000 copies in a slipcase. The signature is on a attached bookplate – most signatures were in English, with a smaller number in Japanese script. Even more desirable is the 100 copy white leather bound edition with a black inlaid cat design, also housed in a black slipcase. Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father's dark prophesy. The aging Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his pleasantly simplified life suddenly turned upside down. Their parallel odysseys are enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerising dramas. Cats converse with people; fish tumble from the sky; a ghostlike pimp deploys a Hegel-spouting girl of the night; a forest harbours soldiers apparently un-aged since WWII. There is a savage killing, but the identity of both victim and killer is a riddle. A classic tale of quest, an an exploration of mythic and contemporary taboos, of patricide, of mother-love, of sister-love.
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman – short stories, translated by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel. Harvill Secker, London 2006, published a hardcover trade edition, and a 1000 copy signed limited edition in a slipcase. The signature is to a publisher’s bookplate fixed to the half title, most frequently in English with a minority in Japanese. In addition, Blackwells of Oxford issued an 85 copy limited edition of the Harvill trade version, signed on a bookplate in both English and Japanese. Knopf, USA, hardcover 2006. In 2006 this collection won Murakami the world's richest short story prize (The Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award). A young man accompanies his cousin to the hospital to check an unusual hearing complaint and recalls a story of a woman put to sleep by tiny flies crawling inside her ear; a mirror appears out of nowhere and a nightwatchman is unnerved as his reflection tries to take control of him; a couple's relationship is unbalanced after dining exclusively on exquisite crab while on holiday; a man follows instructions on the back of a postcard to apply for a job, but an unknown password stands between him and his mysterious employer. In each one of these stories, Murakami sidesteps the real and sprints for the surreal. Everyday events are transcended, leaving the reader dazzled by this master of his craft. An introduction explains the diversity of the author's choice.
After Dark(2004) - novel, translated by Jay Rubin. Knopf, New York, 2007 hardcover. Some copies (perhaps around 500) were issued with an additional tipped in page signed by Murakami (in English) and with one or two of his trademark inked stamps. In the UK, Harvill Secker issued the hardcover trade edition, and also a 100 copy edition bound in black leather with a silver camera motif in a slipcase. Meanwhile, Boarders, a UK book chain, had exclusive rights to an unsigned limited (800 copies) slipcased Edition bound in black with silver titles and graphics in matching slipcase. The midnight hour approaches in an almost empty all-night diner. Mari sips her coffee and glances up from a book as a young man, a musician, intrudes on her solitude. Both have missed the last train home. The musician has plans to rehearse with his jazz band all night, Mari is equally unconcerned and content to read, smoke and drink coffee until dawn. They realize they've been acquainted through Eri, Mari's beautiful sister. The musician soon leaves with a promise to return before dawn. Shortly afterwards Mari will be interrupted a second time by a girl from the Alphaville Hotel; a Chinese prostitute has been hurt by a client, the girl has heard Mari speaks fluent Chinese and requests her help. Meanwhile Eri is at home and sleeps a deep, heavy sleep that is 'too perfect, too pure' to be normal; pulse and respiration at the lowest required level. She has been in this soporific state for two months; Eri has become the classic myth --- a sleeping beauty. But tonight, as the digital clock displays 00:00, a faint electrical crackle is perceptible, a hint of life flickers across the TV screen, though the televisions plug has been pulled.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (2008) - a memoir, about running, writing and the relationship between the two. The title derives from Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Initially published as a US hardcover by Knopf, followed by a UK hardcover by Harvill Secker. There was also a signed limited UK edition of only 75 copies in a slipcase.
Murakami Diary 2009 - published in 2008 as a paperback in both the US and UK by Vintage.
IQ84 - Harvill press, London, 2011. See separate entry for prelimimary details.
Single short stories in book format
Many of Murakami’s short stories have first been published in English translation in periodicals or magazines, and this is outside the scope of the current posting. However, there have been several single short stories published in book format, often as limited editions.
Birthday stories – an anthology of short stories chosen by Murakami, who contributes an introduction and the first story Harvill, UK 2004 (hardcover); Vintage USA paperback 2006. Each story is a snapshot of life on a single day. Including stories by Russell Banks, Ethan Canin, Raymond Carver, David Foster Wallace, Denis Johnson, Claire Keegan, Andrea Lee, Daniel Lyons, Lynda Sexson, Paul Theroux, William Trevor and Haruki Murakami, this anthology captures a range of emotions evoked by advancing age and the passing of time, from events fondly recalled to the impact of appalling tragedy. Murakami’s contribution is “Birthday Girl”, translated by Jay Rubin.
Tony Takitani - Cloverleaf Press, Los Angeles, 2006. Softcover. Blind-embossed and numbered limited but unsigned edition of 1000 copies. Translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin, book design by Elinor Nissley, letterpress cover and endpaper illustrations by Michiko Yao, inside illustrations by Anne Faison.
Sleep, Kat Ran Press, Florence, USA, 2004. Undoubtedly the most desirable and expensive of Murakami’s limited editions to date, Sleep comes with multicolour etchings by John Gibson. Translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin, Sleep tells the story of a woman who ignores conventional wisdom by embracing more than two weeks of sleeplessness (with the aid of Anna Karenina). Composed in Dante types by Michael and Winifred Bixler of Skaneateles, New York, the fifty-six pages of Sleep have been printed at Kat Ran Press on handmade Twinrocker papers. The four etchings by John Gibson, whose paintings may be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Museum at the Rhode Island School of Design (among others), have been printed by Peter Pettengill and his exemplary staff at Wingate Studio in Hinsdale, New Hampshire. The entire edition has been carefully bound in full leather and boxed by Claudia Cohen at her Seattle, Washington, bindery. There were sixty copies, of which forty-five were for sale, signed by the author, translator and artist. Alas, this title is out of print and effectively unobtainable – unless you want to make me an offer I can't refuse!
Aeroplane - Oundle, England: Oundle Festival of Literature Press, 2007. Hardcover. An exquisite, small press printing of this short-story from Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (and originally published in The New Yorker). 120 hand-numbered copies signed by the author on a tipped-in bookplate. Designed and printed by Sebastian Carter at the Rampant Lions Press in Cambridge. Printed by letterpress on mould-made paper and bound in stiff, blue paper-covered boards by the Fine Bindery, Wellingborough. 22 pages.