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Haruki Murakami: Pandemic and Ukraine War Fuel Social Divides.

Haruki Murakami: Pandemic and Ukraine War Fuel Social Divides.

Haruki Murakami, the renowned Japanese writer, has expressed his concern about the increasing division of people and countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In a speech titled “Writing Fiction in the Time of Pandemic and War” delivered at Wellesley College in late April, Murakami stated that the fear and skepticism that characterize modern society has replaced mutual trust with suspicion, resulting in a relentless construction of walls around people.

In his latest novel, “The City and Its Uncertain Walls,” released in April in Japan, the protagonist is faced with a difficult decision between two worlds, an isolated walled city of tranquility, and the real world beyond the walls filled with pain, desire, and contradictions. Murakami wrote the original story for a magazine and put it aside, intending to rewrite it because he knew it had important ideas. Some forty years later, he found that the tale fitted the current situation perfectly.

The COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have dramatically changed the world and eroded the sense of safety that came with a common belief in globalism and mutual economic and cultural dependency. Many countries, including Japan, have subsequently increased their military preparedness and budgets. The war in Ukraine has continued without an end in sight, and the high walls being built around people and between countries and individuals have spread a psychic condition of if someone isn’t your ally, he is your enemy, Murakami said.

The author hopes that novels and stories can lend their power to an investigation that will take time, and in which we will have to trust in each other once more to overcome our suspicions. Although there’s not much a novelist can do, Murakami sincerely believes in the power of storytelling to promote thought and combat fear. To promote his message of peace, Haruki Murakami hosted the radio show “Music to put an end to war” shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine. He’s also translated James Thurber’s anti-war picture book, “The Last Flower,” which will be released later this month.

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Murakami invites his readers to figure out the protagonist’s decision about whether to stay within the walls themselves while reading “The City and Its Uncertain Walls.” As a thoughtful author and peace advocate, Murakami believes that his work can lend its power to help cross the walls that divide people and resolve the conflicts that plague society.

© 2020 CANDOUR

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