Japanese author Murakami reveals plan for library of works

Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami poses for photographers during a press conference at Waseda University. (AP pic)

TOKYO: 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,” Murakami said at a joint news conference with school officials at Waseda. “I hope it would create an opportunity for cultural exchanges.”

Media-shy Murakami said it was his first formal news conference 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.

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 US bookstores.

The library project emerged earlier this year when Murakami offered to donate his growing collection of materials as he was running out of space at his home and office.

“I also have no children to take care of them and I didn’t want those resources to be scattered and lost when I die,” said the 69-year-old, who is a perennial contender for the Nobel literature prize. “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.

Murakami said he wants to see the library to stimulate interaction and cultural exchanges among students, scholars and others interested in his books.

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 perhaps 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.