With all due respect to Toni Morrison, Ian McEwan, Beverly Cleary, Muriel Spark, Günter Grass, J.D. Salinger, Stephen Dixon, Lorrie Moore, Grace Paley, Gore Vidal, Gabriel García Márquez, Rachel Ingalls, Tom Drury, Thomas Pynchon, Eudora Welty, J.P. Donleavy, Milan Kundera, Philip Roth, Naguib Mahfouz, David Foster Wallace, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, Don DeLillo, some people my editor cut, Alice Munro, Dale Peck, José Saramago, Edmund White, E.L. Konigsburg, John Updike, W.G. Sebald, Russell Banks, Stephen Millhauser, Kazuo Ishiguro, Amy Bloom, Robert Cormier, Kenzaburo Oe, Francesca Lia Block, Rick Moody, Donald Antrim, Amos Oz, Paul Auster, Cynthia Ozick, Harry Crews, Denis Johnson, Gary Indiana, Howard Norman, Anne Tyler, Jonathan Lethem, J.G. Ballard, Dorothy Allison, Mary Gaitskill, and—of course—me, Haruki Murakami is our greatest living practitioner of fiction. The ways he has found to inhabit narrative are without precedent, and perhaps more importantly, without gimmick. The stories he tells are new but not particularly newfangled. He tweaks tradition and gives equal air time to both the tradition and the tweak. Murakami's best work is as deep and decorative as those Easter Island heads, but he doesn't make a big deal out of it. The novels aren't afraid to pull tricks usually banned from serious fiction: They are suspenseful, corny, spooky, and hilarious; they're airplane reading, but when you're through you spend the rest of the flight, the rest of the month, rethinking life. I really like his... More >>>