I’m a loner. I don’t like groups, schools, literary circles. At Princeton, there was a luncheonette, or something like that, and I was invited to eat there. Joyce Carol Oates was there and Toni Morrison was there and I was so afraid, I couldn’t eat anything at all! Mary Morris was there and she’s a very nice person, almost the same age as I am, and we became friends, I would say. But in Japan I don’t have any writer friends, because I just want to have . . . distance….
During the four years of writing The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, I was living in the U.S. as a stranger. That “strangeness” was always following me like a shadow and it did the same to the protagonist of the novel. Come to think of it, if I wrote it in Japan, it might have become a very different book.
My strangeness while living in the U.S. differed from the strangeness I feel while in Japan. It was more obvious and direct in the U.S. and that gave me a much clearer recognition of myself. The process of writing this novel was a process similar to making myself naked, in a way….
I think that my job is to observe people and the world, and not to judge them. I always hope to position myself away from so-called conclusions. I would like to leave everything wide open to all the possibilities in the world.
I prefer translating to criticism, because you are hardly required to judge anything when you translate. Line by line, I just let my favorite work pass through my body and my mind. We need critiques in this world, for sure, but it’s just not my job.
Haruki Murakami, The Art of Fiction No. 182