By Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press on May 23, 2020.
TOKYO – Acclaimed Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, hosting a special radio show from home, painted a brighter side of the world with his favourite music, and said the fight against the coronavirus is a challenge in figuring out ways to help and care for each other.
The 71-year-old, known for bestsellers such as â€œA Wild Sheep Chaseâ€ and â€œWindup Bird Chronicle,â€ said Friday he hoped the show would â€œblow away some of the corona-related blues.â€
Murakami opened the two-hour late night show â€œMurakami Radio Stay Home Specialâ€ with â€œLook for the Silver Liningâ€ by the Modern Folk Quartet, followed by 18 other songs, selected from classical to jazz, pop and rock. Their common thread: smile, sunshine, rainbow, birthday memories and other happy sides of life.
Murakami said comparing the fight against the coronavirus to a war, as politicians often do, is inappropriate. â€œItâ€™s a challenge for us to figure out how we can share our wisdom to co-operate, help each other and keep balance. Itâ€™s not a war to kill each other but a fight of wisdom to let us all live,â€ he said. â€œWe donâ€™t need enmity and hatred here.â€
Music serves as an important motif in Murakamiâ€™s stories. An avid listener and collector of music, he has also written books on the topic and has a library of records in his study, where Fridayâ€™s program was prerecorded.
Murakami has hosted his â€œMurakami Radioâ€ every two months since August 2018 on Tokyo FM. The station said Fridayâ€™s show was Murakamiâ€™s idea to cheer up those who are under stress, living under a coronavirus state of emergency still in place in parts of Japan, including Tokyo.
Murakami began writing while running a jazz bar in Tokyo after graduating from university. Following his 1979 debut novel â€œHear the Wind Sing,â€ the 1987 romance â€œNorwegian Woodâ€ became his first bestseller, establishing him as a young literary star. Recent hits include â€œ1Q84â€ and â€œKilling Comnendatore.â€
A perennial contender for the Nobel Prize in literature and a social recluse, Murakami said he has worked from home for years and the lifestyle has little changed, though â€œthe corona situationâ€ did affect him in many ways, possibly an inspiration for his future work.
Murakami has written stories inspired by events that have violently shaken the society, including the 1995 Tokyo subway gassing by an apocalyptic cult and the deadly quake in Kobe, where he grew up.
Rather than documenting an event as it develops, Murakami said that as a novelist he is more interested in transforming it into â€œa story in a different form,â€ though he doesnâ€™t know when or how.
The world may be experiencing â€œa large-scale social experiment whose results could slowly spread across the entire society, for better or worse,â€ he said.
Murakami said he worries the post-corona world may be a more closed and selfish place even if it has better protection.
â€œIf love and compassion are lacking, the world after the corona will surely be an edgy and insipid place even if masks and vaccines are abundantly distributed,â€ he said. â€œLove is important.â€
Other songs on the playlist: â€œWaiting on a Sunny Dayâ€ by Bruce Springsteen; â€œRaindrops Keep Falling On My Headâ€ by Isley Meets Bacharach; â€œHere Comes the Sunâ€ by Nina Simone; â€œYouâ€™ve Got A Friendâ€ by Carole King; â€œOver the Rainbowâ€ by Ella Fitzgerald; â€œSun Is Shiningâ€ by Bob Marley & The Wailers: â€œWhat A Wonderful Worldâ€ by Louis Armstrong; â€œHappy Birthday Sweet Darlingâ€ by Kate Taylor; â€œSmileâ€ by Eric Clapton; â€œMy Favorite Things Featuring Kathleen Battleâ€ by Al Jarreau; â€œShe Wore a Yellow Ribbonâ€ by Lisa Ono; â€œHappy Talkâ€ by Nancy Wilson; â€œThey Canâ€™t Take That Away from Meâ€ by Brian Wilson; â€œPut on a Happy Faceâ€ by Tony Bennett; â€œOver the Rainbowâ€ by Fred Lowery; â€œWeâ€™ll Meet Againâ€ by Peggy Lee with Benny Goodman; â€œMon coeur sâ€™ouvre Ã ta voixâ€ by Sigrid OnÃ©gin; â€œWhat the World Needs Now Is Loveâ€ by Wei Wei Wuu.
This story corrects the number of songs played.
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