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REVIEW: Murakami – Novelist as a Vocation…

Anticipating a new release by Haruki Murakami gives me a little tingle akin to that of a new album release by a favourite artist. I have hoovered up every Murakami book for decades. I’ve also gobbled up any available insights into how he goes about his business. So, yes, there was much excitement when I read that Novelist as a Vocation, a collection of 11 essays (some of which I’ve read before), was on the way. I even prepared a 214 page hardback gap on the Murakami shelf to accommodate it.

His is a very uncomplicated approach to writing. The takeaway is to simply get on with it, sit at your desk and do it, and to not bother concerning yourself with befriending other writers, worrying about what the literary establishment might think, and to not give a shit about winning awards and prizes. All of which is, of course, fine and dandy coming from a multimillion-selling award-winner.

Not everyone will have an epiphany at a baseball game that leads them to a life in writing. But the constant underlining that this is a job of work where a lot of effort is required is good to read, in an era when everyone is looking for shortcuts to success, which of course don’t exist.

There are some excellent words about the editing process, developing an original and unique voice, and devoting the necessary time required to get down and do the graft. As ever, the choice of words used throughout these esays is simple, unadorned and all the more beautiful for it.

Hardly a guide to following in his footsteps – more of a warning that there’s nothing remotely glamorous involved in being a novelist, just a lot of rolling up of the sleeves – it says just enough to be useful, to aspiring novelists and those trying to break through into publication, while at the same time maintaining the mystery around how this master storyteller keeps on adding to his body of work.

I’d encourage you to head into an independent bookshop to buy Murakami’s Novelist as a Vocation but you can also order it online via my virtual bookshop at at the link below.

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