Multiple nominated novelist Haruki Murakami said on February7 that he is sorry for the portrayal of a small Japanese town’s community, after suggesting the locals are usually throwing cigarettes from car windows.
The passage has outraged the small community of the remote town of Nakatonbetsu on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, who said it will ask for explanations from the publisher.
The offending passage appeared in the new 24-page novella, entitled “Drive my car — men without women”, which was published in the December edition of the long established monthly magazine “Bungeishunju”.
“I love the land of Hokkaido and have visited there a number of times … I have written the novel this time strictly with a sense of intimacy for it,” Murakami said in a statement.
“I find it quite regrettable and unfortunate that it has caused people living there to feel unpleasant. In order to prevent myself from causing any more trouble, I intend to change it to a different name,” he added.
The novel includes fictional dialogues between a widowed middle-aged actor and his 24-year-old chauffeuse who hails from Nakatonbetsu, a real-life town who had around 7,600 inhabitants in 1950.
When she flips a lit cigarette out of the driver’s window, the actor thinks to himself: “Probably this is something everyone in Nakatonbetsu commonly does.”