So I have to post this passage from a great essay on his work:
Some have found Murakami’s deployment of fantastical elements in his fiction to be fey or under-justified. His own reasoning about the practice, in a 2004 Paris Review interview with John Wray, is revealing: “We are living in a fake world; we are watching fake evening news. We are fighting a fake war. Our government is fake. But we find reality in this fake world. So our stories are the same; we are walking through fake scenes, but ourselves, as we walk through these scenes, are real. The situation is real, in the sense that it’s a commitment, it’s a true relationship.” So, too, in Murakami’s novels, events might be unnatural and outré, but the characters are as human as possible. Murakami achieves this in two ways: first, by an unrushed, tender cataloguing of small daily action (preparing “steaming food”), and second, by the lovingly humorous imagining of his characters’ inner chatter. Here is Aomame, in a moment of downtime: “That was the most she could get herself to do — stare at the ceiling. Not that the ceiling had anything of interest about it. But she couldn’t complain. Ceilings weren’t put on rooms to amuse people.”
Compare to my post from a month ago on Scott Pilgrim:
The fascinating thing about the graphic novels, though, is that while the formal elements are completely artificial, the content — i.e., the characters and their inner journeys — feels real. Scott and Ramona awkwardly date, they fall in love, fight, split, and get back together as they learn to be a couple, while at the same time their friends have their own challenges and breakthroughs. Mixed in with the surreal plot points are ordinary slice-of-life scenes where the characters do things like grabbing burgers and building bonfires on the beach.