The ‘best Japanese work of fiction’ published in Japanese during Japan’s Heisei era was ‘IQ84’ by Haruki Murakami[UPDATED: 1-13-2021]
In 2019 Japan’s imperial age known as the Hesei era (1989-2019) ended and a new era began called the Reiwa era. The inception of a new era and the end of another led to the media reflecting on the highlights of the last era and trying to identify the best of everything of that era including, for example, the best works of Japanese fiction.
The Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s most prestigious national newspapers, surveyed 120 experts, who had contributed book reviews to this important newspaper about their choice for the best book from the Heisei period.
1Q84 by Murakami topped their list. It is probably far too early to determine the ‘best’ novel from the Heisei era, and no doubt everyone has their own favourite Murakami novel, but it is still very interesting to know which book was considered by some to be ‘the best’ in the final year of the period.
Unsurprisingly, journalists, academics and filmmakers from outside Japan, from Denmark and the United Kingdom for example, often look to Japanese authors and their works, especially Murakami’s, in order to explain and explore contemporary Japan and frame its Heisei era (1989-2019) in particular.
Murakami’s works are seen as both an interpretation and reflection of this time, and is no doubt a trend that will continue no matter the merits of such an approach. A trend he and the media are helping propagate in interviews.. In one such interview in the Asahi Shimbun, at the time of the publication of their survey, Murakami talks about the Heisei era, as well as his journey as a writer and his books.