Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto, Japan, in 1949. He grew up in Kobe and then moved to Tokyo, where he attended Waseda University. After college, Murakami opened a small jazz bar, which he and his wife ran for seven years.

His first novel, Hear the Wind Sing, won the Gunzou Literature Prize for budding writers in 1979. He followed this success with two sequels, Pinball, 1973 and A Wild Sheep Chase, which all together form “The Trilogy of the Rat.”

Murakami is also the author of the novels Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World; Norwegian Wood; Dance Dance Dance; South of the Border, West of the Sun; The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle; Sputnik Sweetheart; Kafka on the Shore; After Dark; 1Q84; and Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. He has written three short story collections: The Elephant Vanishes; After the Quake; and Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman; and an illustrated novella, The Strange Library.

Additionally, Murakami has written several works of nonfiction. After the Hanshin earthquake and the Tokyo subway sarin gas attack in 1995, he interviewed surviving victims, as well as members of the religious cult responsible. From these interviews, he published two nonfiction books in Japan, which were selectively combined to form Underground. He also wrote a series of personal essays on running, entitled What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

The most recent of his many international literary honors is the Jerusalem Prize, whose previous recipients include J. M. Coetzee, Milan Kundera, and V. S. Naipaul. Murakami’s work has been translated into more than fifty languages.

To view his books, click here.

Michel Foucault

Michel Foucault

Michel Foucault, born on October 15, 1926 in Poitiers, France was a French philosopher and historian, one of the most influential and controversial scholars of the post-World War II period. He died of AIDS on June 25, 1984 in Paris.

Foucault was critical of certain philosophical ruminations which he felt were too straightforward questions, and was equally critical of their responses as well. Naturally, his way of thinking was different from his predecessors. His views on power and knowledge and the way they socially control societal institutions, particularly the bourgeois state (including its police, doctors, psychiatrists), along with his work on sexuality deemed him as a "postmodernist", although he disliked the label. He equally disliked being labeled a "homosexual" for being gay. 

Much of Foucault's criticism of the bourgeois state perhaps also came from his own family background. His father was an elite surgeon, and upon seeing his son's suicidal tendencies, sent Foucault to a renowned psychiatrist when he was 22. His psychiatrist had determined his stress primarily stemmed from him having to repress his sexuality in a largely heteronormative and censorious society. Consequently, Foucault followed the underground gay movement which had allowed him to express himself more freely.

After reading Nietzche's "The Uses and Abuses of the History of Life", Foucault began to think more the role of history as an archive to offer ideas and insight to help improve the present time. In his writings he criticized the bourgeois state and its institutions such as police, prison, medicine, and psychiatry along with how "modernity" affected sexuality. 

To view books by Foucault, click here.

 

Jeff Vandermeer

Jeff Vandermeer

Jeff Vandermeer is easily regarded as one of the best fantasists. He grew up in the Fiji Islands and traveled through Asia, Africa and Europe before returning to the USA. It was these travels that deeply influenced Vandermeer's fiction writing. Jeff VanderMeer - called "the weird Thoreau" by the New Yorker - is the 2016-2017 Trias Writer-in-Residence for Hobart-William Smith College. His Southern Reach trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance) has won the Shirley Jackson Award and Nebula Award and made it to over 30 best book lists. Three-time World Fantasy Award winner, VanderMeer is the co-director of Shared Worlds, a unique teen science-fiction/fantasy writing camp located at Wofford College. He is also the recipient of an NEA-funded Florida Individual Artist Fellowship for excellence in fiction and a Florida Artist Enhancement Grant. He lives with his wife Ann and their two cats Tallahassee, Florida.