TOKYO (AP) – Japanese author Haruki Murakami announced Sunday that he is working to set up a library that will showcase his works and also serve as a meeting place for research and international exchanges.
The library would archive his books, various stages of drafts of his novels, materials he used to write his books, and his translation work, as well as his massive collection of music, which plays a key role in his stories, he said.
The library is planned at Waseda University, his alma mater in Tokyo.
“I’m more than happy if those materials can contribute any way for those who want to study my works,” the 69-year-old Murakami said at a joint news conference with school officials at Waseda. “I hope it would be a place for cultural exchanges with positive and open atmosphere.”
Media-shy Murakami said it was his first formal news conference at home in 37 years. Though he interacted with fans on several occasions this year, including hosting his radio programs twice and appearing before fans at a book event in New York, Murakami on Sunday agreed to pose only for still cameras.
A perennial contender for the Nobel literature prize, Murakami began writing while running a jazz bar in Tokyo before graduating from Waseda in 1975. His debut novel, “Hear the Wind Sing,” came out in 1979, and the 1987 romantic novel “Norwegian Wood” was his first best-seller, establishing him as a young literary star. His latest novel, “Killing Commendatore,” recently hit U.S. bookstores.
The library project emerged earlier this year when Murakami offered to donate his collection of materials that have grown so much over the past 40 years that he was running out of storage space at his home and office.
“I have no children to take care of them and I didn’t want those resources to be scattered and lost when I die,” he said. “I’m grateful that I can keep them in an archive.”
Waseda officials said details were still being worked out, but a partial archive would start in 2019. University president Kaoru Kamata said he wants to make the library a must-see place for Murakami fans and researchers of Japanese culture and literature from around the world.
Initial archives would include drafts of “Norwegian Wood” that he wrote by hand on notebooks while traveling in Europe, as well as translation of novels written by his favorite authors including Raymond Carver, J.D. Salinger and Scott Fitzgerald.
Murakami professionally translates English-language novels into Japanese, but he says he enjoys that so much it’s almost his hobby rather than work. He said translation has given him different perspectives and made a big difference to what he writes.
“I strongly feel that translation work has helped me grow. I might have suffocated if I had remained only in the Japanese literature,” he said.
Murakami said he wants to see the library to stimulate interaction and cultural exchanges among students, scholars and others interested in his books and Japanese literature.
Ideally, he said he wants to make it a place like his study, where he writes stories while listening to his choice of music of the day, and possibly have a concert sometimes.
The library is not yet going to have a full archive and it would develop as he brings in more materials in years to come, Murakami said.
“I’m still alive and I have to use some of them,” he said.
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