Seed Talks: The Life & Literature of Haruki Murakami, London

Wednesday 5th June 2024
19:00 -

Murakami’s typical main character is the lonesome male protagonist with little success and aspiration. He often lives in a Tokyo-like setting, listens to music, cooks spaghetti and in many cases ends up in search of something – a cat, a sheep, an old friend, but very often his wife or long-lost girlfriend.

While this iconic character has reached readers across the world, Murakami’s works offer much broader narrator perspectives, and in this talk Dr Gitte Marianne Hansen will guide you through Murakami’s life and works, including the lesser-known works that have gained little attention.

At a time when our world turns more and more towards digitalization and visual entertainment, Murakami, as a writer of literary text that reaches a global readership, is interesting because he seems unusually positioned between pure literature and pop culture. Together we will dig into the richness of the Japanese language and what that means for Murakami’s narrator and character types and of course their translation into English. Along the way, we will discover the writer’s massive success but also his criticism, which cannot but bring us to the question of gender: are Murakami’s female characters really just objects for the male protagonist?

Doors open at 7pm, talk starts at 7.30pm – come down early to grab a good seat!

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About the Speaker

Dr Gitte Marianne Hansen is Reader in Japanese studies at Newcastle University. With an interest in ‘bubble culture Japan’, her research focuses on Japanese literature and culture since the 1980s. She is particularly interested in character construction, gender and story-repetition. In 2018 Hansen led an AHRC funded research project on Murakami (Eyes on Murakami. Her book publications include, Murakami Haruki and Our Years of Pilgrimage (2022, with Mihcael Tsang), The Work of Gender: Service, Performance and Fantasy in Contemporary Japan (2022, with Fabio Gygi) and Femininity, Self-harm and Eating Disorders in Japan: Navigating contradiction in narrative and visual culture (2016). She recently translated Murakami’s short story ‘Crete Kano’ from 1990 into English (Monkey New Writing from Japan vol 3. 2022) and is currently working on a book length project on female characters and narrative strategies in his works.

Testimonials from our guests

⭐ Truly riveting talks, always enjoy these – a great way to spend an evening with some pals. Already looking forward to the next one. – Alexander P

⭐ Expertly run, talks are always super informative and a lot of fun! Couldn’t recommend these enough! 5 star. – Owen S

⭐ Been to a few talks and all have been super interesting. An enjoyable evening to go to either alone or with friends. The talks make for stimulating conversation. Highly recommend! – Daisy J


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