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“Barn Burning” by Haruki Murakami

We’ll be reflecting on Murakami’s evolution as a writer over the last 30 years while discussing 3 stories consecutively: “Barn Burning” (1992); “Tony Takitani” (2002) ; “Cream” (2019). I first read “Barn Burning” 20 years ago. Now that I’ve reread the story for the class several times and we’ve done discussion, I realize again and again how well-structured and fascinating it is. “Barn Burning” is about money, power, class, morality, the observed and observer, and loss. All of a sudden, a rich young man (like Gatsby) says “sometimes I burn down barns” to the protagonist, a writer. That leads the protagonist to look for a possible location of the barn which is set to be burned desperately. What drives him to do so to that extent? What does it mean to burn barns? Is the barn the protagonist himself? Does he not realize that his barn has always been burned? What is it that he has lost irrevocably?

“What I’m trying to say is that the world is filled with these barns. You’ve got your barns, I’ve got mine.”

I love it. I’m still a huge fan of Murakami.

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