Between Jazz, Cherry Blossoms, and Baseball: Transculturality in the Publications of Murakami Haruki

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Abstract

In this day and age a continuous flow of ideas and culture takes place, which is part of the globalisation process. These exchanges influence the development of a transcultural literature. Murakami Haruki is not only a transcultural writer, but one of the most popular and internationally acclaimed authors of contemporary Japanese literature who has changed the literary scene in Japan since the publication of his debut novel Kaze no uta o kike (Hear the Wind Sing). Murakami has experimented with postmodern expressions and eventually developed his own writing style, which integrates elements of Western cultures into his works. This paper focuses on the author’s transcultural strategy, which is often reflected in his choice of the setting and time frame, the frequent mentioning of cultural consumer goods and linguistic features such as the utilisation of loanwords. In particular, references to music and literature play a major role in Murakami’s publications. This paper analyses how and to what extent transculturality influences the characters, their actions, and the storyline on the basis of the short story “Nemuri” (Sleep) published in 1989. In the process it is concluded that, above all, these references underpin aspects such as the search for identity, the escape into ‘another world’, and the rejection of societal norms and values.

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