Novelist Murakami hosts Japanese ghost story reading ahead of Nobel Prize announcements

Category: Lifestyle/Entertainment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. perennial / pəˈrɛn i əl / (adj.) – existing or happening for a long time

    Strong storms are perennial in countries like Japan and the Philippines.

  2. intrigue / ɪnˈtrig / (v.) – to catch the interest of someone in a way that he/she wants to know more

    The last part of the movie greatly intrigued the audience.

  3. contender / kənˈtɛn dər / (n.) – a person who competes with others to win or get something, such as a prize, an achievement, or a position

    The actor’s excellent performance made him a contender for the Best Actor award.

  4. imprudent / ɪmˈprud nt / (adj.) – not wise or cautious

    Despite the warnings, he made the imprudent decision to invest all his savings in a risky business.

  5. vengeful / ˈvɛndʒ fəl / (adj.) – having the desire to hurt or punish someone who has done something bad

    The movie is about a vengeful man who wants to punish his mother’s killer.


Read the text below.

Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami hosted a ghost story reading event in Tokyo amid growing attention before the announcement of this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature, an award he is a perennial favorite to win.

Murakami said at the September 28 reading that he enjoys scary stories and wants to write more of them. The event featured one from the 18th-century collection “Tales of Moonlight and Rain,” which intrigued Murakami since his childhood and is known to have inspired his work.

The classic collection written by Akinari Ueda called “Ugetsu Monogatari” in Japanese explores a blurry borderline between the real and surreal, which Murakami said in a guide he contributed to a 2021 magazine made him wonder which side he was on.

Borders and walls are important motifs in Murakami’s writing. Protagonists in his stories often travel through walls or between two worlds and encounter mysterious, exotic characters. While Murakami has said he grew up mostly reading Western novels, some experts have also noted the influence of Ueda’s stories in some of Murakami’s work.

Murakami has been a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature for more than a decade, and the winner of the 2023 prize was announced on October 5. If he had won, he would have been the first Japanese writer since Kenzaburo Oe in 1994 to be named a Nobel laureate.

Japanese media also have mentioned novelists Yoko Ogawa and Yoko Tawada as possible contenders in recent years.

The Nobel Prize did not come up at September 28’s ghost story event. Kayoko Shiraishi, a veteran actress known for ghost tale monologues, performed Ugetsu’s “The Kibitsu Cauldron,” a story of an imprudent man who marries a priest’s good daughter despite a cauldron’s fortunetelling revealing a bad omen. The protagonist meets a horrendous end after betraying his wife, who becomes a vengeful spirit.

Murakami wrote his first published novel, 1979’s “Hear the Wind Sing,” after being inspired to write fiction while watching a baseball game at Meiji Jingu Stadium.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • The Nobel Prize is awarded to people whose works have “the greatest benefit on mankind” for the previous year. How do you think literature can benefit mankind? Discuss.
  • How do you feel about Haruki Murakami being a perennial favorite to win the prize? What impact would his nomination have on writers or other aspiring Nobel Prize winners in your country? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Haruki Murakami hosted a ghost story reading event in Tokyo where he read works that intrigued him. Do you think it is a good idea to bring literary works to life through reading events, theatrical performances, and movies? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Do ghost stories intrigue you? Why or why not? What other genres of literature intrigue you? Why? Discuss.