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Murakami’s talismans.
PENCIL ENVY

Take an interactive tour of reclusive cult author Haruki Murakami’s desk

Anne Quito
By Anne Quito

Design and architecture reporter

This post has been updated.

Haruki Murakami is opening up. Through his engrossing interactive website, the reclusive author of such bestselling novels as Norwegian Wood and Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is giving his legions of fans a tour of his workspace and a glimpse into his creative habits.

It turns out, the desk of the brilliant Japanese novelist—oft-mentioned for the Nobel Prize and known for imaginative leaps into the magical realism—looks fairly normal. Like most of us, he has a mug, some pencils, and a few of tchotchkes, er, “talismans,” and memorabilia collected from his travels around the world.

To hold his well-sharpened yellow pencils, Murakami repurposed drink glasses decorated with Miles Davis albums covers. “They are gifts from a record shop (for being a very good customer!),” he wrote on his website.

And a good record shop patron he was. Just beyond the desk, a floor-to-ceiling shelf unit housing his impressive collection of some 10,000 vinyl records is in sight. “I almost always work listening to music,” Murakami writes on his website. Before becoming a writer, Murakami ran a small jazz bar with his wife in Tokyo, which has now become somewhat a pilgrimage site for his fans.

Earlier this year, Murakami opened up to his readers in another way. Posing as “agony uncle,” he surprised and delighted fans by running a rather sweetly kooky advice column where he addressed pressing life concerns such as how to get over an ex (“Listen to Ray Charles and spend your time wiping your tears.”); how to be a better writer (“Writing is similar to trying to seduce a woman. A lot has to do with practice, but mostly it’s innate.”); or how to deal with an obnoxious co-worker (“How would his life be if he/she were in my novel, you ask? Skinned alive with a knife, of course… just kidding.”)

Murakami’s website has actually been up since December 2014, but the American release of two of his early novels, Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, this month have cast the spotlight on Murakami’s entire body of work.

Murakami’s portfolio site was created by the Philadelphia-based design agency Blue Cadet. The design team, led its founder and CEO, Josh Goldblum, envisioned the website to “reflect the immersive, imaginative, and experiential quality of the author’s writing while providing a window into his working life.” The website garnered a Webby award this year.

Update Aug. 20, 2015: Images and direct quotes from Murakami’s website were removed from this post at Penguin Book’s request.

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