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Murakami Ryū

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

Writing name of Ryūnosuke Murakami (1952-    ), a Japanese author whose work frequently employs Equipoisal or Surrealist modes and themes (see Mainstream Writers of SF). Murakami first came to public attention with his scabrous, decadent Kagirinaku Tōmei ni Chikai Blue (1976; trans Nancy Andrew as Almost Transparent Blue 1977), seemingly inspired by his reckless, youthful days near the alien temptations of a US naval base. American pop culture and hegemony often features in his stories, sometimes as an indicator of the lack of affect or nihilism to be found in Japan's Blank Generation, manifesting as foreign serial killers, womanizers and drug pushers preying upon the passively indifferent Japanese. Several of his early novels form a loosely linked roman a clef not unlike the Rat Sequence of Haruki Murakami, with whom he is often confused. The semi-autobiographical 69 (1987; trans Ralph F McCarthy 1990), for example, is an affectionate satire of Japanese student protests in the late 1960s, focusing on a callow, nerdish protagonist obsessed with music and comics (see Fandom), who only feigns left-wing political commitment in order to impress his would-be girlfriend.

His later Coin Locker Babies (1980; trans Stephen Snyder 1995) is a more sustained work of Fabulation, embracing the then-popular mode of Cyberpunk in order to frame a tale of prosaic, Tokyo urban myth – the life of two orphans, abandoned at a train station by unknown parents, but often told with what appears to be a deliberate imitation of the breathless techno-orientalism of many foreign authors writing about Japan. Among many non-genre novels, Murakami's most notable experiments include Ai to Gensō no Fascism ["Fascism of Love and Fantasy"] (1987) in which a brutal Near Future Japan devolves into a Social Darwinist Dystopia, before acquiring the nuclear Weapons that afford it a prime position on the world stage. Hanto o Deyo ["Get Out of the Peninsula"] (2005; trans Charles De Wolf and Ginny Tapley Takemori as From the Fatherland, With Love 2013) echoes some of the satires of Hisashi Inoue and Kōshun Takami, with a North Korean splinter group attacking and occupying the southern Japanese island of Kyūshū, but facing resistance from teenage guerrillas. [JonC]

Ryūnosuke Murakami

born Sasebo, Nagasaki, Japan: 19 February 1952

works (selected)


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