Japanese writer Haruki Murakami (C) and Spanish writter and journalist Berna Gonzalez Harbour (D) during a meet with readers clubes members at the Jovellanos Theatre in Gijon, northern Spain, 18 October 2023. EFE/Juan Gonzalez

Murakami: I write what I feel like, not to be a bridge between cultures

By Raul Molina

Japanese writer Haruki Murakami (2-R), who will receive next Friday the Literature's Princess of Asturias award, and Gijon's Mayor Carmen Moriyon (L) arrive to Jovellanos Theatre to have a meet with readers clubes members in Gijon, northern Spain, 18 October 2023. EFE/Juan Gonzalez

Oviedo, Spain, Oct 18 (EFE).- Japanese writer Haruki Murakami appeared unconcerned about the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in literature, and defended the traditional method of writing, even though it may be too “slow” for today’s digitized world.

“My head is full of errors and I write with that head. If a computer had as many errors as my head, it could break,” Murakami said during an interview with EFE.

The “Tokyo Blues” author, who was in Oviedo in northern Spain to receive the Princess of Asturias Award for Literature – to be presented on Friday -, underlined that “the human head can work even with mistakes, but not a computer.”

His distrust of AI also extends to social networks, despite having launched initiatives such as interactions with readers through a website, an experience reflected in one of his books.

“I’ve tried social media a little bit, but I came to the conclusion that it doesn’t work for me, so I don’t use it now,” Murakami reflected, lamenting that, at first, it may have helped create a democracy of “a new sort” but has ended up “disappointing.”

The influence of social networks and the digitization process can make the pace of novels seem “very slow” to a large majority of Internet users, but literary works also “last longer,” according to the most widely read Japanese writer in the world.

“That’s why I have faith in the power of novels and stories. Perhaps there are fewer people in the world that accept slower or delayed information. Even if it is ten or even five percent, I trust very much in the strength of those people,” he said.

Murakami, who has previously received other awards in Spain, said he feels “grateful” for an award that, like the Nobel, he dreamed of decades ago.

The jury recognized his ability to express some of the great issues and conflicts of our time such as loneliness, existential uncertainty or dehumanization in large cities, as well as serving as a “bridge” between Eastern and Western culture, although it is something he denies.

“I write what I feel like, don’t think anything about playing a role in the East or the West, or serving as a bridge,” stressed Murakami, who before becoming an author, spent years translating authors such as Truman Capote, Scott Fitzgerald, J.D. Salinger, Raymond Carver and John Irving.

Thus, when he decided to shut down the jazz bar he ran in Tokyo with his wife to devote himself entirely to literature, his “challenge” was how to express himself in Japanese from the undeniable influence that these authors had on him.

From initially being listed as a cult author to becoming one of the best-selling writers in the world, a publicly elusive Murakami admitted not feeling “comfortable” with being famous, since he is considered “a private person who writes intimate stories.”

“I prefer a quiet life. I am happy just having books, music and cats. Even so, I am very glad that a lot of people read me,” said the author of Dance Dance Dance, who also has a good grasp of music.

He added that music comes out “naturally” to him and is a part of his daily life. “When I get up and when I start writing I listen to classical music. When I run or drive the car, I listen to rock and at night, jazz.”

At 74, Murakami expressed no regret about closing his jazz club in Tokyo, the Peter Cat, in the late 70s.

“It was good for me to work all the time concentrating solely on writing. It was very difficult to combine two professions,” he recalled. EFE