Murakami Breakdown

I’m in the Japan Times this week with an ode to the long, fold-out indexes of Japanese literary magazines: “There’s more than just page numbers in the index of a Japanese literary magazine.”

I did a little digging for the history of these indexes, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to find much – any search you do for the word 目次 (mokuji, index) automatically retrieves, well, every work with an index. I found it nearly impossible to sort out information about indexes from works with indexes.

If you have any leads, send them my way!

I did find this tweet, which shows the index of a very old literary magazine.

I don’t think the index folds out, but there are some nice fold-out illustrations, which shows the concept in practice.

I found two interesting links while researching this article.

The first is a site I found listing the 枚数 for different lengths of Japanese fiction. I’m realizing now that this site specializes in mystery writing and even has a walkthrough on how to write your own mystery novel, complete with 起承転結 construction.

The second and lengthier link is 文芸5誌について, a post from 2012 detailing the five major literary magazines and their philosophies/differences. It’s also a super effective primer on 純文学, 私小説, and how the 文壇 works. Although it does seem to have a very strong critical take on the current state of 純文学.

I’m still reading through this post. It’s long and dense, and I don’t really have the breadth of knowledge for it to be super helpful, although I recognize some of the names so far – Wataya Risa and Kanehara Hitomi being two of them.

I mostly end up thinking in terms of Murakami (as is my tendency), so I thought I would break down where his works have been published:

Gunzo
1979 – Hear the Wind Sing
1980 – 1973 Pinball
1982 – Wild Sheep Chase
1996 – “Lexington Ghost”

Bungakukai
1980 – “The Town and Its Uncertain Wall”
1983 – “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman”
1985 – “The Elephant Vanishes”
1989 – “Sleep”
1991 special issue – “Iceman,” “The Green Beast,” F Scott Fitzgerald translation, “The Windup Bird and Tuesday’s Women” (EN)
1995 – “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman”

Shincho
1980 – “A Poor Aunt’s Story”
1981 – “Kangaroo Communique”
1983 – “Barn Burning”
1984 – “The Dancing Dwarf”
1986 – “The Windup Bird and Tuesday’s Women”
1993 – The Wind Up Bird Chronicle Part 1 (serialized)
1999 – Stories from After the Quake, from August to December
2005 – Stories from Tokyo Kitanshu, from March to June

Subaru
1982 – “Her Small Dog in the Ground”

Bungei
Essays and other writing but no fiction

Bungeishunju
1990 – “Tony Takitani”
1996 – “The Seventh Man”

Pretty interesting! This only includes his fiction, so it doesn’t give a full picture of his writing, but it does tell an interesting story. Murakami basically moved away from Gunzo after his first few novels and has been publishing his short story sets and longer works in Shincho more regularly.

I was keen to check out this lone story in Subaru for a second—I thought a trip to the National Diet Library might have been in order for my next trip to Japan—until I realized it’s collected in A Slow Boat to China. Alas. I’ll have to track down some obscure nonfiction instead.

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