Author Murakami hosts live jam for relaxation amid pandemic

Entertainment
Haruki Murakami

FILE – In this Nov. 3, 2018, file photo, Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami signs his autograph on his novel “Killing Commendatore” during a press conference in Tokyo. Murakami said politicians need to reduce public uncertainty and fear over the coronavirus by speaking sincerely about the pandemic. Murakami, in a two-hour live New Year’s Eve show on Dec. 31, 2020, urged political leaders to “talk honestly from the gut” to the people to encourage them to help slow rising infections which are on the verge of getting out of control. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese author Haruki Murakami has a remedy for those who need relaxation from stress and worries in a pandemic — bossa nova.

“As we are going through a time of anxiety, I hope to help you relax even just a little bit,” Murakami said as he hosted a live music event, “Murakami Jam — Blame it on the Bossa Nova,” bringing together renowned Japanese performers of bossa nova, jazz and classical music.

Despite the pandemic, Murakami — known for bestsellers including “A Wild Sheep Chase,” “The Wind-up Bird Chronicle” and “1Q84” — said he still maintains a daily routine including running and writing, but the frequent world traveler has stayed in Japan.

Murakami, who on his radio show has expressed concern about prejudice and discrimination against coronavirus patients, said he finds that the rhythm of bossa nova has a healing effect.

“I think good music is something that heals people and fires up your kindness,” he said.

During Sunday’s approximately two-hour show, he recited his 1982 short story “The1963/1982 Girl from Ipanema,” in which a narrator details his memory of his meeting with a metaphysical girl from the song, with live guitar performed by his guest Kaori Muraji.

The show, also featuring bossa nova artist Ono Lisa, jazz pianists Junko Onishi and Yosuke Yamashita and singer Miu Sakamoto, was held at Tokyo FM hall with just 100 fans chosen by a lottery and is viewable online until Feb. 24.

Music is an important motif in Murakami’s stories. An avid listener and collector of music, he has also written books on the topic.

Murakami, 72, began writing while running a jazz bar in Tokyo after graduating from university. Following his 1979 debut novel, “Hear the Wind Sing,” the 1987 romance “Norwegian Wood” became his first bestseller, establishing him as a young literary star. His latest collection of short stories “First Person Singular” came out in Japan last year.

A perennial contender for the Nobel Prize in literature, Murakami now appears as a DJ for his roughly bimonthly “Murakami Radio” show, but he is known as a social recluse and public appearances are still rare.

“Some people doubt if I really exist, and others think I’m an imaginary figure,” he said.

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