Japan town fuming over Murakami fiction portrayal
Publish Date: Feb 05, 2014
  • mail
  • img

A small Japanese town was fuming at best-selling novelist Haruki Murakami on Wednesday after a new story appeared to suggest its residents habitually throw lit cigarettes from car windows.

The remote town of Nakatonbetsu on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido says it will demand an explanation from the publisher over how it allowed such a description to pass over an editor's desk.

The offending passage appeared in the new 24-page novella, entitled "Drive my car -- men without women", which was published in the December edition of the long established monthly magazine "Bungeishunju".

It depicts fictionalised conversations between a widowed middle-aged actor and his 24-year-old chauffeuse who hails from Nakatonbetsu, a real-life mountain town whose population has dwindled to 1,900 from a peak of 7,600 in 1950.

When she flips a lit cigarette out of the driver's window, the actor thinks to himself: "Probably this is something everyone in Nakatonbetsu commonly does."

Murakami, 65, whose often surrealist works have been translated into about 40 languages, is widely spoken of as a future Nobel Literature laureate.

But members of the eight-strong town assembly were not amused at their portrayal as a home for litterbugs and intend to demand an explanation of publisher Bungeishunju, Shuichi Takai, head of the assembly's secretariat, told AFP.

"In early spring, the town people gather of their own will in a clean-up operation to collect litter on roads," Takai said.

"We also work hard to prevent wildfires as 90 percent of our town is covered with mountain forests. It is never a town where people litter with cigarettes everyday," he added. "We want to know why the name of a real town had to be used like that."

Bungeishunju said it had no comment to make as it had yet to receive any inquiry from the town.

Murakami's latest book, "Shikisai wo Motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to Kare no Junrei no Toshi (Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage)", became the biggest-selling novel of 2013 after its April release.

An English-language translation is expected some time this year.


The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Climate talks drill into detail amid new warning of peril
Negotiators tasked with saving Earth's climate system embarked Tuesday on an 11-day race to overcome decades-long disputes as experts pointed to a towering threat from coal....
Aid reaches S.Sudan war zone but famine risk remains: UN
Aid workers in war-torn South Sudan have reached one of the worst hit areas where thousands are feared dying of starvation, the United Nations said Tuesday, but warned conditions may yet worsen....
Former PM Kabore elected president of Burkina Faso
Roch Marc Christian Kabore has won Burkina Faso's presidential election, official results showed, after a year of turmoil that saw the west African country's former leader deposed and the military try to seize power....
Putin snubs Erdogan in Paris as pilot
Russian President Vladimir Putin snubbed a meeting with Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in France on Monday as the body of a pilot killed when Ankara downed one of Moscow's warplanes returned home...
Israeli parliamentarian resigns over sexual harassment claims
A rightwing Israeli politician has resigned from the country's parliament after a series of allegations of sexual harassment, the party announced on Monday....
Turkey to get cash, closer EU ties at migration summit
EU leaders will offer Turkey cash and a boost for its membership bid in exchange for its cooperation with the migrant crisis at a summit Sunday, but officials warned a final deal will involve "difficult" negotiations....
Do you think Uganda is winning the fight against AIDS?
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter