Ranking Haruki Murakami’s Books

Haruki Murakami’s new book Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage  was recently released to wide acclaim.  Murakami is not only recognized as one of the greatest writers of his generation, but also one of the most unique.  To the dismay of Japanese literary critics, Murakami has been strongly influenced by several Western writers including Raymond Carver, J.D. Salinger, Franz Kafka, and Kurt Vonnegut.  Despite his Western influences, Murakami’s books are still strongly influenced by his Japanese heritage.  Matthew Carl Strecher argues that while Murakami is a Japanese author, “he is also a global one” whose works should be seen as “as examinations of questions that concern all humanity.”

Ranking Murakami’s books is a foolhardy task.  Even the worst Murakami book (if there is such a thing) is better than most authors’ best book.  In other words, it is almost impossible to go wrong when you pick up one of his books.

Here’s our rankings:

 1.  A Wild Sheep Chase

 2.  Norwegian Wood (Vintage International)

 3.  After the Quake: Stories

 4.  The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

 5.  Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

 6.  Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (Vintage International)

 7.  1Q84

 8.  Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

 9.  Kafka on the Shore

 10.  Hear the Wind Sing

 11.  Pinball, 1973

 12.  Dance Dance Dance

 13.  What I Talk about When I Talk about Running

 14.  After Dark (Vintage International)

 15.  South of the Border, West of the Sun: A Novel

 16.  The Elephant Vanishes: Stories

 17.  Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche

Here’s the link to the Publishers Weekly Rankings of Murakami’s books by Matthew Carl Strecher who has written several books on Murakami, Dances with Sheep: The Quest for Identity in the Fiction of Haruki Murakami, Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Reader’s Guide, and the upcoming The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami. Slate also has an article where they recommend the five Murakami books you should read first.

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