Haruki Murakami, a Japanese writer, believes that walls are being built more frequently, dividing people and countries, due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic causing fear and skepticism. In a speech titled “Writing Fiction in the Time of Pandemic and War” given at Wellesley College in late April, Murakami stated that walls are being erected around us, replacing mutual trust with feelings of suspicion. He believes that everyone is faced with a choice to either hide behind the walls, preserving safety and the status quo, or to emerge beyond the walls in search of a freer value system. Murakami’s new novel, “The City and Its Uncertain Walls,” which was released in Japan in April and is expected to be translated into English in 2024, explores this theme. The protagonist faces a difficult decision between two worlds: an isolated walled city of tranquility with no desire or suffering, and the real world beyond the walls filled with pain and desire and contradictions. Murakami started rewriting the book in March 2020, soon after COVID-19 began spreading around the world, and finished it two years later, as the war in Ukraine passed its one-year mark. He believes that the two big events combined and changed the world in dramatic ways, causing the sense of safety that came with a common belief in globalism and mutual economic and cultural dependency to crumble. Murakami hopes that novels and stories can lend their power to an investigation into whether trust in each other can once again overcome suspicions and whether wisdom can conquer fear.
In a recent interview, author Haruki Murakami took a stance on the current world events. He spoke out about the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, claiming these issues create walls that divide people.
Murakami claimed that the pandemic cause individuals to become increasingly isolated. With social distancing in place, people are no longer able to physically gather and interact with one another as they once could. In turn, this causes a deep sense of loneliness and disconnect, which further creates the feeling of separation.
Regarding the war in Ukraine, the author claimed the effect is even more pronounced. This conflict in particular divides people in an ideological sense, as various groups and individuals find themselves on different sides of the fight. In this way, it can be argued that the pandemic has created rifts between people on a very basic, human level.
Despite the fact that these complex issues are likely to have a lasting impact on society, Murakami chose to be optimistic. He believes that, in the end, humanity will persevere and ultimately find ways to bridge those gaps in understanding.
In speaking up about these issues, the famed author has brought greater awareness to the realities of the current day. By highlighting the potential damage done by these walls, Murakami encourages us to strive for greater unity amongst ourselves and our neighbors across the globe.
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