Murakami warns against excluding 'outsiders' in award speech

Murakami warns against excluding 'outsiders' in award speech

Haruki Murakami has warned against excluding outsiders in an acceptance speech for 2016's Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award in Odense, Denmark.

“No matter how high a wall we build to keep intruders out, no matter how strictly we exclude outsiders, no matter how much we rewrite history to suit us, we just end up damaging and hurting ourselves,” said Murakami on collecting the 500,000 krona (£60,726) award on Monday (31st October).

In a speech entitled "The Meaning of Shadows", inspired by Andersen’s story "The Shadow" (1847) in which a neglected shadow turns on its master, he spoke of the necessity to acknowledge both shadow and light, as individuals and in society, because: "Do away with shadows and all you end up with is a flat illusion. Light that doesn’t generate shadows is not true light." 

“It is not just individuals who need to face their shadows. The same act is necessary for societies and nations. Just as all people have shadows, every society and nation, too, has its own shadows,” he said, as reported by Japan Today.

Murakami, also gifted a bronze sculpture by sculptress Stine Ring Hansen and a diploma "The Beauty of the Swan" on the night, was chosen to be the award's recipient in November last year for his prose the committee said embodied "a global view".

The committee at the time praised his "narrative zest that has parallels in the writing of Hans Christian Andersen" and capacity to "boldly mix classic narrative art, pop culture, Japanese tradition, dreamlike realism and philosophical discussion makes him a fitting heir to the Andersen legacy". 

Murakami, who is published by Vintage in the UK, has published over 10 novels including A Wild Sheep Chase (1982), Norwegian Wood (1987), The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1994–95), Kafka on the Shore (2002), and 1Q84 (2009–10). Having run a marathon a year since the age of 33, he also published his views on running and writing in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, translated by Philip Gabriel, in 2007.

The Danish award, set up in 2010, has previously been awarded to authors J K Rowling and Salman Rushdie.