Message to teenagers amid pandemicSeptember 7, 2020
Murakami gave an interview to the high school student reporters from the Yomiuri Junior Press on 8 August, in the middle of the pandemic.
The students carefully read Murakami’s new book “First Person Singular”, and Murakami offered them an invaluable two-hour experience in the summer when the pandemic deprived young people of opportunities.
The HIdden Meaning Behind the Story
Students in Japan are always required to answer questions about the hidden meaning of what they read on literature exams. On this occasion, to directly talk to the author, they asked if there was any ‘symbolism’ or ‘authorial intention’ in ‘Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey’.
Murakami replied, “Only monkeys know why he stole the name.” and said “A novel is like a “mirror” in which the reader can reflect themselves. The reflection is entirely different depending on who reads it. The right to access the story is impartially open to everyone.
So it is nothing wrong if the view of me, the author, and you, the reader, differ.
Regarding “Yakult Swallows Poetry Collection,” Murakami said, “The “I” in this story is the “I” in the mirror. It’s a story with a duality of being me and not being me.
The Story of the Times
Murakami also talked about his essay ‘Abandoning the Cat’, in which he wrote about his father’s war experiences and the memory when he was a child and said.
“Every generation has something to tell. For me, my father’s war experience was significant. I’m sure your generation will come up with something too, like this Covid mess”.
“There are two ways of writing about Covid. One is to write it precisely. The other is to write the story by replacing it with something completely different. As a novelist, I feel that’s my main job, but I believe many writers have started to write something on it.”
What is Important in Life.
Murakami gave advice to the students, who are always told to think about their future
“My life happened through coincidence… I had no plan, no dream. If I had tried to write something when I was 21, I don’t think I would have been able to. I was one of those people that could only write once I’d done something. It is important how things turn out in life.
When students asked about the Nobel Prize, Murakami said, “I’ve been writing novels for more than 40 years, and there are people who read my works all the time. That’s much more important than the prize. If you fall in love with a girl, it doesn’t matter if she wins a prize like ‘Miss XXX’. It’s the same thing.”
Murakami presented to the students what is truly valuable. And it was a comment to the students and, at the same time, a message of gratitude to us, the readers.
In the article, the students concluded: ‘It was a big day for us, a day that inspired us to live.’
Congratulations. May the pandemic ends soon.