Fortunately, this book is much, much better than that lurid movie. Indeed it is indispensable to understanding why Ryu Murakami — too often perceived in the West as “the other Murakami,” always in the shadow of the more famous Haruki — has been so garlanded with honors in Japan, including the prestigious Akutagawa and Noma prizes.
Renaissance man for the modern age, Ryu Murakami has played drums for a rock group, made movies and hosted a TV talk show. His first novel, Almost Transparent Blue, written while he was still a student, was awarded Japan's most coveted literary prize and went on to sell over a million copies. He is also the author of In the Miso Soup and Piercing, both published in English by Bloomsbury. Ralph McCarthy is the translator of 69, In The Miso Soup and Piercing by Ryu Murakami and two collections of stories by Osamu Dazai.
Which is why I'm more than a little excited to have been exposed to Ryu Murakami. Within the first three pages of his Akutagama-winning debut novel, Murakami's disaffected Japanese youth growing up in the shadow of an American military base huff glue, shoot up some heroin and have sex in a flophouse that Burroughs would feel at home in. The next 100-odd pages are packed to the brim with more of the same- violent orgies with American servicemen, madcap mescaline adventures that end with them crashing a car onto a runway, more heroin, flashmobs beating security guards senseless and other signs of impending armageddon.