Haruki Murakami’s latest novel is an expansion of a story he started over 40 years ago.
Haruki Murakami started his latest novel, The City and Its Uncertain Walls, three years ago, during the pandemic—but he really started it over four decades ago, as a short story.
“Because of the coronavirus,” he explained ahead of the novel’s release in Japan last week, “I hardly went out and stayed home most of the time, and I tended to look at my inner self. Then I thought, perhaps it’s time to write that story.” He began the novel in January 2020, he said, “as if recovering it from the back of a drawer,” and completed it in December 2022.
The story, which has the same name as the novel, was originally published in 1980. Why revisit it now? “In an age when society is going through rattling changes, whether to stay holed up inside the wall or to go to the other side of the wall has become a greater proposition than ever,” he said.
“Initially, Murakami’s intention was to rewrite the 1980 story “The City, and Its Uncertain Walls” to improve it,” writes Mari Yamaguchi at AP News.
But the story didn’t end there, and Murakami kept writing. The version published in the “Bungakukai” literary magazine was rewritten, then became the first chapter of what turned into a three-part, 672-page novel.
In Part 2, the protagonist gets a job as head of a library in a small town in Fukushima, where he meets his mysterious predecessor and a teenage boy as the story leads up to the final section.
“I’m now in my mid-70s, and I don’t know how many more novels I can write,” Murakami said. “So I strongly felt that I must write this story with affection, and spend ample time to do so.”
“I really enjoy writing,” he added. “It’s fun to write, and rewriting is more fun.”
The City and Its Uncertain Walls was published in Japan on April 13, but—much to the disappointment, I’m sure, of many people reading this, a publication date for an English translation has not yet been announced.
[via AP News]