Recommended Reading: A short story collection by an anonymous North Korean author was smuggled out of the country and will be published in English next year.
“People used to wish that life could be as it is in books—that it could have the beauty, drama, and shapeliness that writers gave it. Today, by contrast, we hope desperately that life is not really like our writers portray it; in other words, we hope that writers are not representative men and women, but unfit beings whose perceptions are filtered through their unhealth. It is necessary to hope this, because if life were as it appears in our literature it would be unlivable.” Adam Kirsch explores the downside of literary nostalgia.
“And now, as an adult, I love nothing more than curling up with a good book, closing my eyes, breathing in through my nostrils, keeping my eyes closed and not reading yet continuing to draw in oxygen for hours, and, thanks to my fetishized olfactory associations for printed and bound matter, becoming sexually aroused.” On the scent that no e-reader can ever replace.
Among Haruki Murakami’s many significant literary achievements is the fact that the author has – since the 1990s – become “responsible for triggering and fueling the Japanese literature boom in South Korea.” Indeed, by “creat[ing] bonds of shared emotions and literary sensibilities among tens of millions of people with different cultural and historical backgrounds,” writes Yoon Sang-In, “Murakami’s literary works have emerged as a great cultural asset that contributes to stability in [the East Asian] region.” (Bonus: Murakami’s latest book – which will be published in the States in 2014 – is flying off the shelves in Japan.)