15 Best Authors Like Haruki Murakami: Discover Inspiring Contemporary Literature

Discover our guide to authors like Haruki Murakami and explore inspiring contemporary literature and realism.

Haruki Murakami is a stylish, contemporary Japanese writer known for his easily accessible yet profoundly complex works. As a fan, you could look for authors with a similar style or explore similar themes. 

Some of the best Japanese authors write in a style that resonates with Murakami’s distinct style, combining elements of magical realism, melancholy, and deep character exploration. As you venture further, you will discover various options to expand your literary horizons and find new favorites that remind you of the captivating and unique world of Haruki Murakami.

Haruki Murakami’s Style

Haruki Murakami is a renowned Japanese writer known for his unique blend of magical realism, fantasy, and surreal storytelling. His mesmerizing stories often transport you into a world where love, time, and the fantastical collide. As a fan of Murakami, you’ll find yourself immersed in his captivating narratives, which often blur the lines between reality and the surreal.

As you read his works, you’ll notice that Murakami masterfully intertwines everyday life with extraordinary elements, creating a rich tapestry where the ordinary becomes magical. This magic realism brings a fresh perspective to his stories, allowing you to see the world differently.

In addition to the rich fantasy in his works, Haruki Murakami’s stories often delve into love, loss, and self-discovery themes. You’ll find engaging characters who grapple with emotional struggles, punctuated by Murakami’s signature wry humor and clear prose. 

His narratives resonate not only because of their fantastical elements but also due to the very human experiences and emotions they explore. Interested in learning Japanese? Check out our round-up of the best books on Japanese for beginners!

Comparing Themes and Elements

When exploring authors similar to Haruki Murakami, you’ll notice various themes and elements in their works that resonate with Murakami’s style. While each author may have a unique voice, you can find similarities in their approach to storytelling.

You may encounter themes of strange occurrences, where magical realism plays a significant role in plot development. Works like Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto often involve surreal events, blending the mundane with the mysterious, just like your favorite Murakami novels.

Eerie and unsettling atmospheres are common in these authors’ works, creating a sense of unease and leaving you with that spine-tingling feeling. If you enjoy the tinge of horror in Murakami’s writing, you might appreciate Yoko Ogawa’s stories, which often explore existential dread.

Another common thread amongst these authors is their ability to depict loss and emotional turmoil gracefully. You will often find characters struggling to accept their past, searching for their identity, or coping with grief.

1. Yoko Ogawa, 1962 –  

Yoko Ogawa
Yoko Ogawa has won every major Japanese literary prize

Yoko Ogawa’s stories often explore existential dread and human emotions, drawing you in with intricate narratives and thought-provoking themes. Her works captivate readers like Murakami’s, making her an excellent choice for those who appreciate his style. Ogawa is an internationally successful author who turned a lifelong hobby into a lucrative career. Her debut novel, The Breaking of the Butterfly, was well-received and awarded a literary prize.

Dive into The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa a collection of three novellas packed with psychological suspense and deeply unsettling themes. You might find yourself drawn to its eerie atmosphere and fascinating exploration of the darkness within human nature.

Diving Pool: Three Novellas
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2. Banana Yoshimoto, 1964 – 

Banana Yoshimoto
Yoshimoto’s novels often center around young women navigating complex emotional landscapes

Banana Yoshimoto’s novels contain themes of love, loss, and self-discovery will appeal to fans of Murakami as they dive into the intricate layers of the human experience. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto is a lovely novel that combines the simplicity of everyday life with profound emotions. The story revolves around Mikage, a young woman dealing with love and loss, and her journey of self-discovery weaved with her passion for cooking.

Known for her evocative and poetic prose, Yoshimoto’s novels explore love, loss, and emotional growth themes. Her compelling characters and vivid settings make for an immersive reading experience.

  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Yoshimoto, Banana (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 160 Pages - 04/17/2006 (Publication Date) - Grove Press (Publisher)

3. Milan Kundera, 1929 – 2023

Milan Kundera
Milan Kundera was a Czech-French novelist known for his novels and poetry

One author to consider is Milan Kundera. Much like Murakami, Kundera’s works challenge traditional boundaries and delve into the surreal. The way he plays with style and narration may remind you of Murakami’s signature approach.

His most famous novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, is known worldwide. The novel gained international acclaim for exploring relationships and existentialism while considering the political turmoil at the time. Kundera’s unique writing style made him one of the most influential writers of the 20th century, and he is celebrated worldwide for his powerful insights.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being: A Novel
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Milan Kundera (Author) - Richmond Hoxie (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 05/15/2012 (Publication Date) - HarperAudio (Publisher)

4. Jorge Luis Borges

Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges was a famous Argentine short-story writer and poet

Jorge Luis Borges is another author you might enjoy. His book Ficciones is a collection of short stories that exemplify magical realism. Borges’ inventive play with language and narratives can transport you to a dreamlike world, just like Murakami’s works do.

Jorge Luis Borges was born in Argentina and built a successful career as a master storyteller who creates innovative and intriguing stories. His works delve into philosophical fantasy, often blurring the line between reality and imagination. Borges’s Labyrinths showcases his fascination with paradoxes. He has influenced the literary world and is one of the most significant figures of the 20th century.

  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Borges, Jorge Luis (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 178 Pages - 05/12/2015 (Publication Date) - Grove Press (Publisher)

5. Salman Rushdie, 1947 –

Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie combines magic realism and historical fiction in his novels

Salman Rushdie is a British-Indian novelist who is well known for his bold storytelling that casts commentary on currency, cultural and political themes. Rushdie’s work often deals with themes of identity and modern society.

Fans of Murakami’s magical realism might also appreciate Salman Rushdie. His novel Midnight’s Children is a prime example of blending reality with fantasy, exploring the lives of individuals born at the stroke of midnight, each with unique supernatural powers.

Midnight's Children
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Salman Rushdie (Author) - Lyndam Gregory (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 04/24/2009 (Publication Date) - Recorded Books (Publisher)

6. Gabriel García Márquez, 1927 – 2014

Gabriel Garcia
Gabriel Garcia Márquez is a Colombian novelist known for his magical realism storytelling

For a more classic example of magical realism, you might want to check out One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. This novel follows generations of the Buendía family in the fictional town of Macondo and investigates the cyclical nature of time through a mixture of history, fantasy, and supernatural elements.

Márquez’s early career involved journalism in various South American cities, where he found his narrative voice while commenting on political and social issues. His early writing blended his love of journalism with fiction, setting the foundation for his signature style. Impressively, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982, celebrating his work and solidifying his status as a literary giant whose writings speak to readers of all cultures and communities.  

Septimus Heap, Book Four: Queste (Septimus Heap, 4)
  • Sage, Angie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 624 Pages - 06/23/2009 (Publication Date) - Katherine Tegen Books (Publisher)

7. Tomihiko Morimi, 1979 – 

Tomihiko Morimi
Tomihiko Marimi is a contemporary author who is best known for his whimsical storytelling

Tomihiko Morimi has a unique writing style that captures the imagination, much like Murakami. His novels explore themes of love, destiny, and nostalgia, taking you on an emotional journey through intricate storytelling.

The Tatami Galaxy: A Novel is a captivating novel that follows the life of an unfulfilled college student who is thrown through four parallel realities to explore what could have been. This famous novel tackles themes of loss, adversity and letting go of the past. Morimi’s classic writing style with vivid imagery and detailed characterization makes this novel a favorite amongst fans of Morimi’s work. 

The Tatami Galaxy: A Novel
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Tomihiko Morimi (Author) - Andrew Grace (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 12/06/2022 (Publication Date) - HarperAudio (Publisher)

8. Natsuo Kirino, 1951 – 

Natsuo Kirino
Natuso Kirino is a bold Japanese author known for her influential literary works

Another great author to check out is Natsuo Kirino, known for her gritty crime novels and psychological thrillers. Kirino’s work delves deep into the darker aspects of human nature, contrasting Murakami’s often surreal and dream-like narratives. 

Kirino’s novel Out has been highly successful worldwide due to its thrilling storyline and captivating narrative. The author’s writing style often makes commentary on societal pressures, gender roles and the human psyche while creating powerful storylines. Suspense and psychological drama are Karino’s specialty, so if you love a thrilling page-turner, this author is for you!

Out: A Thriller
  • Kirino, Natsuo (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 416 Pages - 01/04/2005 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

9. Hiromi Kawakami, 1958 –  

Hiromi Kawakami
Hiromi Kawakami is a celebrated contemporary Japanese author known for her introspective storytelling

Kawakami’s works often capture the subtleties of human emotions and relationships. Kawakami’s writing style is characterized by its simplicity and attention to everyday details, which lend her narratives a sense of intimacy and depth.

Her novel Strange Weather in Tokyo, also published as The Briefcase, beautifully explores the evolving connection between a young woman and her former teacher. With a focus on nostalgia, solitude, and the complexities of modern life, Kawakami’s novels and short stories offer readers a glimpse into the intricate tapestry of emotions that define the human experience in an ever-changing world.

Strange Weather in Tokyo: A Novel
  • Kawakami, Hiromi (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 192 Pages - 11/14/2017 (Publication Date) - Counterpoint (Publisher)

10. Kazuo Ishiguro, 1954 – 

Kazuo Ishiguro
Kazuo Ishiguro is a renowned British novelist of Japanese descent 

Kazuo Ishigur’s literary works often delve into themes of memory, identity, and the passage of time. His unique voice and distinct narrative style have earned him critical acclaim and a devoted readership. Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go skillfully blends dystopian elements with a poignant exploration of humanity’s nature and scientific advancement’s ethics. 

His most famous work, The Remains of the Day, is a meditation on duty and regret, revealing his skill in examining the complexities of personal and societal constraints. Ishiguro’s evocative prose and thought-provoking themes have garnered numerous awards, including the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2017, solidifying his place as a masterful storyteller with a profound understanding of the human condition.

Never Let Me Go
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Ishiguro, Kazuo (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages - 04/05/2005 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

11. Ryu Murakami, 1952 – 

Ryu Murakami
Ryu Murakami is a celebrated Japanese author known for his edgy and often provocative literary works

Distinguished by his exploration of dark and gritty themes, Murakami’s novels often delve into the underbelly of society, exposing the complexities of human behavior. His novel Audition gained international recognition for its chilling portrayal of obsession and psychological manipulation.

Murakami’s storytelling is marked by a raw and unflinching approach to depicting human desires and the hidden facets of modern life. With his works, he has established himself as a trailblazer in contemporary Japanese literature, consistently challenging societal norms and offering readers a candid glimpse into the darker corners of the human psyche.

  • Murakami, Ryu (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 192 Pages - 06/07/2010 (Publication Date) - W. W. Norton & Company (Publisher)

12. Kobo Abe, 1924 – 1993

Kobo Abe
Kobo Abe was a pioneering Japanese writer and playwright known for his innovative and thought-provoking literary contributions

Kobo Abe’s The Woman in the Dunes is an atmospheric, surreal tale of a man trapped in a village by the sea. The novel grapples with themes of freedom, identity, and the human condition, blending the realm of dreams with reality, much like Murakami’s works.

Moving on to another influential Japanese author, Kōbō Abe is known for his intense psychological themes that blend well with science fiction elements. Abe’s writing style is often compared to that of Haruki Murakami, so it’s no surprise that fans of one might find enjoyment in the other’s work.

The Woman in the Dunes
  • Kobo Abe (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 02/28/2024 (Publication Date) - Penguin Group(CA) (Publisher)

13. Miyuki Miyabe, 1960 – 

Miyuki Miyabe
Miyuki Miyabe is a prolific and versatile author who has written mystery, sci-fi, and fantasy works

Known for her empathetic character portrayals and exploration of moral dilemmas, Miyabe’s writing resonates with readers profoundly, making her a significant voice in modern Japanese literature. Her ability to weave intricate plots with emotional depth has solidified her reputation as a versatile and accomplished storyteller.

Miyabe’s novel Brave Story is a captivating fantasy adventure that follows a young boy’s journey to a magical realm in search of a wish to save his mother’s life. All She Was Worth, another successful novel by Miyabe, masterfully combines mystery and social commentary, exploring the complexities of identity theft in contemporary Japan. 

All She Was Worth
  • Miyuki Miyabe (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 296 Pages - 02/27/1999 (Publication Date) - Mariner Books (Publisher)

14. Franz Kafka, 1883 – 1924

Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka is a significant literary figure who influenced Haruki Murakami’s work

If you’re into existential themes, consider Franz Kafka’s The Trial, a classic novel that explores the absurdity of life and the struggles of a man accused of a crime he doesn’t understand. It’s a thought-provoking read that might remind you of Murakami’s subtle examinations of human nature.

As a journalist and novelist, Kafka explores the human condition and the absurdity of existence through unique perspectives and unforgettable stories. Kafka’s novella The Metamorphosis is a hallmark of his style, portraying the protagonist’s transformation into a giant insect as a metaphor for societal pressures and personal identity crisis. You might also be interested in our guide on authors like Nick Hornby.

The Metamorphosis
  • Franz Kafka (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 44 Pages - 09/12/2009 (Publication Date) - Classix Press (Publisher)

15. Shirley Jackson, 1916 – 1965

Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson was an influential American author known for her exceptional mastery of psychological horror 

Jackson’s works often delve into the darker aspects of human nature, revealing the unsettling undercurrents beneath seemingly ordinary lives. Jackson’s haunting short story, The Lottery, is a classic example of her ability to create tension and provoke thought by juxtaposing the mundane with the shocking. 

Her novel The Haunting of Hill House is a hallmark of psychological horror, exploring the psychological toll of a haunted mansion on its inhabitants. With her keen insight into the complexities of the human psyche and her skill in building atmospheric tension, Jackson has left an indelible mark on the horror and suspense genres. Her legacy as a trailblazing and thought-provoking writer continues to influence generations of readers and writers alike.

The Grapes of Wrath
  • John Steinbeck
  • paperback
  • penguin
  • John Steinbeck (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Looking for more? Check out our round-up of authors like Yalom!


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