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Novels for a Murakami Fan Part II: I'm Not Broke Yet
July 25, 2010 7:10 PM   Subscribe

I previously asked a question here asking for book recommendations for a Murakami fan, and got an incredibly rich response. Thanks, hive mind! There's just one problem: I ran that list into the ground, and I need some fresh reading. Fortunately, I can now provide much more guidance towards recommendations!

Everything I said in the original question still stands. I'd like to mention some of the standouts in hopes of receiving further guidance from the mighty hive mind.

Gun, with Occasional Music was fantastic. I proceeded to pick up just about all of Lethem's work; Gun remains my favorite, perhaps tied with Amnesia Moon. As She Climbed Across the Table was good; The Fortress of Solitude never quite came together like I hoped it would.

Jonathan Carroll's works I also demolished. He wields language very skillfully, but sometimes (The Ghost In Love) I felt left hanging. The Land of Laughs was excellent. The Wooden Sea was also very good.

I don't have a sufficiently big adjective to describe how much I enjoyed The People of Paper, but I have been pushing my copy on friends ever since. I need more of this.

Smoky's human was really quite accurate. Cloud Atlas was just amazing, and Out: A Novel was quite good. If there's another Cloud Atlas anywhere, I want to know about it. How are David Mitchell's other books? Perfume and Geek Love were both fine but just as predicted did not grab me in the same way. I found Borges hit or miss, but his hits were *fantastic* hits. Of course, now I'm out of Borges.

I am trying really hard to read One Hundred Years of Solitude and I just cannot get into it. I feel bad admitting this on MetaFilter, and fully plan on trying it again.

I read The Year of Our War and something about the world failed to sit right with me. I'm fine with not being introduced to the backdrop of the story right away, but I couldn't shake the feeling I was accidentally reading the second book of a series: that I was supposed to know this world and these characters without ever getting properly introduced to them. Despite being a fine story, that feeling of separation stuck with me the whole time and it never finished grabbing me. I hear this is part of a larger series? I'll take suggestions as to whether or not I should read the second one.

Finally, a series of quick points. Cortazar (Blow Up and Other Stories) had a lot of intriguing ideas, but I found the style hard to read at times. I would try again with the same author, if another book were recommended. George Saunders was great, whether or not he was skewering consumer culture. I can't say enough good things about Italo Calvino, with double points for Invisible Cities and If on a Winter's Night a Traveler. Heartsnatcher and Hidden Camera were individual standouts.

Thank you all for many wonderful times. Now please, help me do it again! I don't have a problem, and the free year of Amazon Prime for students is about to start helping me with that problem I don't have.
posted by DoubleMark to Media & Arts (29 answers total) 67 users marked this as a favorite
 
I see in the other thread someone recommended Hoeg's Smilla's Sense of Snow (I highly enjoyed it), but you didn't mention if you read it. Either way, I think his other book, The Quiet Girl is fantastic and much more Murakami-esque. Also, Never Let Me Go.
posted by quadrilaterals at 7:17 PM on July 25, 2010


Banana Yoshimoto?
posted by exceptinsects at 7:37 PM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Definitely read David Mitchell's other books. I particularly enjoyed Ghostwritten, but also loved number9dream and Black Swan Green. Ghostwritten is probably the closest in style to Cloud Atlas, in that it's a collection of stories that are somewhat tied together.

Both Black Swan Green and his new book, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet are a bit different, and a bit, um... more normal? Haven't read the new one, but I have heard good things about it.
posted by Madame Psychosis at 7:40 PM on July 25, 2010


I love Lethem's pre-realism work as well, and could not get into One Hundred Years of Solitude either. Have you read much Philip K. Dick? He's one of Lethem's biggest influences/personal obsessions. A Scanner Darkly or The Man in the High Castle are two, er, "classic" works. Time Out Of Joint is one of my personal favorites. Along similar lines of tripped-out-literary-detective-fiction: I just finished Godfather of Kathmandu, which while part of a series stands perfectly well on its own and I can highly recommend it. Currently in the middle of Yiddish Policemen's Union and likewise.
posted by griphus at 7:41 PM on July 25, 2010


Did you try the Saramago? Good stuff. Also, you don't mention Stephenson. Cryptonomicon is recommended so much on AskMe that I almost hesitate to do so, but it is one of few books that has given me a Cloud Atlas-like sense of satisfaction.
posted by salvia at 7:41 PM on July 25, 2010


Woman in the Dunes -- book and movie.
posted by whiskeyspider at 8:11 PM on July 25, 2010


Einstein's Dreams by Lightman - although it's super short.

These aren't necessarily the best or most popular by the authors but may fit well.
The Island of the Day Before by Eco
Mason and Dixon by Pynchon
The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor by Barth

(Forgive the lack of links, iPad posting)
posted by ecurtz at 8:15 PM on July 25, 2010


kobo abe is the author of "the woman in the dunes" and he's also written lots of other good novels, many of which seem like they clearly must have had a big influence on murakami - there's a similarity of styles, and both have a big surrealistic streak to much of their work. The Face of Another is another book of his that springs to mind as being murakamiesque (though as abe preceded murakami, it might be more accurate to say murakai is quite abe-esque)
posted by messiahwannabe at 8:55 PM on July 25, 2010


I have previously read Stephenson, and so didn't mention it - but yes, Stephenson is great. Please hold, catching up with other recommendations...
posted by DoubleMark at 9:10 PM on July 25, 2010


The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster

The Black Book
by Orhan Pamuk
posted by juv3nal at 9:19 PM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ishiguro's The Unconsoled and Never let Me go should be right up your alley. Also, David Foster Wallace, especially Infinite Jest. But if you find that daunting pick up one of the collections of essays (they are all good) and see how you like it.
posted by grapesaresour at 10:12 PM on July 25, 2010


Yoko Ogawa?
posted by lizabeth at 12:10 AM on July 26, 2010


Divided Kingdom is an odd and interesting experiment along melancholy, dream-logic Murakami lines. The audiobook is superbly read, if you're an audiobook person.

Seconding The Unconsoled, though you need a lot of time on your hands!
posted by Erasmouse at 12:36 AM on July 26, 2010


You might enjoy William T. Vollmann's You Bright and Risen Angels.
posted by misteraitch at 12:46 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Rivka Galchen's Atmospheric Disturbances.
posted by neushoorn at 2:00 AM on July 26, 2010


If you're an English-reading Murakami fan, open your calendar in the fall next year, because the English translation of Vol 1 of his latest novel--1Q84--will be hitting the bookshelves in stores. It's a three-volume doorstopper of a tome filled with mystical Murakami goodness. The three volumes clock in at around 1500 to 1700 pages in Japanese, and there're rumors of a fourth volume in the works. "War and Peace" ain't got nuttin' on this one (in terms of length, not content, of course).
posted by Gordion Knott at 2:35 AM on July 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also came in here to mention Never Let Me Go. It's Murakami's favorite book, in fact.
posted by dseaton at 3:06 AM on July 26, 2010


I loved Ghostwritten by Mitchell as much, if not more, than I loved Cloud Atlas. Black Swan Green was good... but the whole "young narrator coming of age" thing wasn't really my particular bag.

I am trying really hard to read One Hundred Years of Solitude and I just cannot get into it. I feel bad admitting this on MetaFilter, and fully plan on trying it again.

It took me four tries to read it and it was the hardest slog of a book I've ever been through. Beautiful writing, but man. I'm still not sure it was worth it.

2nding Orhan Pamuk. My Name is Red is very much in the Murakami/Mitchell vein with shifting perspectives/narrators. The Black Book is also incredible, as noted above.

It seems like our tastes in books are pretty similar, so I'm going to go ahead and toss out The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood just because I love the hell out of it. Also Oryx and Crake.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:46 AM on July 26, 2010


The Island of the Day Before by Eco

Eh, I read this and it was alright. Having read The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum, I was actually pretty disappointed with this. If you haven't read Eco, Foucault's Pendulum would probably be up your alley if you also enjoy Neal Stephenson - it reminds me a lot of some of his spec-fic stuff.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:50 AM on July 26, 2010


I think you'd like J.G. Ballard: wonderful, unique use of language and angular, surreal plotting as in HArd Boiled Wonderland, Civilwarland ain Bad Decline, and Gun with Occasional Music. Try the short story collection War Fever to start.
posted by googly at 5:28 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


David Mitchell's number9dream is my favorite Murakami book.

Also, holy crap, read M.T. Anderson's The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing. It's classified as "young adult" for some reason, but please don't let that frighten you.
posted by davidjmcgee at 6:31 AM on July 26, 2010


Girl In Landscape is missing from your list of the Lethem you've read but it is one of my favourites.

I second Erasmouse's endorsement of Rupert Thomson. I would recommend Dreams of Leaving as the closest to Murakami but The Five Gates of Hell is my favourite of his novels.

Hospital by Toby Litt is sort of like a cross between Murakami and Mieville. Sort of. It is definitely a lot of fun. And have you tried Mieville's latest two, The City & The City and Kracken?

Oh, and robocop is bleeding's suggestion of Tim Powers in the last thread was a good one.

posted by ninebelow at 7:08 AM on July 26, 2010


Some further suggestions:

Magic For Beginners by Kelly Link
Lanark by Alasdair Grey
Anything by Milan Kundera
Signs of Life and The Course of the Heart by M John Harrison
Any of Ali Smith's short story collections
Glister by John Burnside
Oh Pure And Radiant Heart by Lydia Millet
Any of the Canongate Myths series
posted by ninebelow at 7:19 AM on July 26, 2010


On the more Lethem-er side of things, you might enjoy Matt Ruff's Sewer, Gas and Electric. It's in the outlandish, sci-fi style of Lethem's earlier work. The paperback copy I have has a blurb by Pynchon, if that has any mileage with you.

On the more Borges/Calvino side, you might enjoy Carlo Emilio Gadda's That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana. It's a detective story where the detective gets lost in the labyrinth of clues. The NYRB Classics edition has an introduction by Calvino.

Speaking of NYRB Classics, you might also enjoy Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky's Memories of the Future. It's like if Borges and Stanislaw Lem had a love child that grew up in early 20th century Soviet Russia and who wrote little puzzle boxes of stories.

I'd also like to second the recommendations for Lydia Millet and Paul Auster.
posted by fryman at 9:34 AM on July 26, 2010


Chris Adrian's The Children's Hospital. Richard Powers.
posted by judith at 12:03 PM on July 26, 2010


Georges Perec's "Life: A User's Manual".
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 12:22 PM on July 26, 2010


If you liked Cloud Atlas, Black Swan Green and Jacob de Zoet are both awesome. They're both a lot more... normal in structure (at least on the surface), but they have the same writing style, which is, of course, brilliant. I just finished Jacob de Zoet and I actually think I liked it better, overall, than Cloud Atlas, which I wasn't expecting. I think it's his most mature novel to date.
posted by JimBennett at 1:17 PM on July 26, 2010


Seconding Infinite Jest....best book ever. Ulysses, by Joyce?
posted by nevercalm at 1:58 PM on July 26, 2010


Looking at descriptions of The People of Paper, it sounds similar in form to Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves.
posted by reductiondesign at 11:06 AM on July 27, 2010


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