Mining for Reality in Late-Stage Capitalism: Reading Murakami Haruki and Don DeLillo Towards a New Literary Realism

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Gabriel Chin

Abstract

This paper articulates an unexplored convergence between authors Murakami Haruki and Don DeLillo. I contend that these authors share similarities in style, content, and context, particularly in their responses to the epoch Murakami calls late-stage capitalism. Focusing on Murakami’s short story ‘A Folklore for my Generation: a Prehistory of Late Stage Capitalism’ (2007) and DeLillo’s Mao II (1991), I examine each author’s profound concern with the status of literature and representation within this age, arguing that the task of fiction for these two writers is to represent reality in a mode not reducible to the bare fact. I find theoretical support for this reading in the philosophical work of Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO) and draw out from OOO’s philosophical realism the possibility of a new literary realism which not only defends the status of fiction as the genuine possibility of a non-reductive relation to things in the world, but a constructive response to the forces of late-stage capitalism, be they the reductive models of the market, mass-culture, or so-called ‘facts’ themselves. In studying the intersection where these writers cross between Japanese and American contexts within the moment of late-stage capitalism, this essay opens the space for a new understanding of each of their oeuvres more widely and demonstrates the fruitful viability of working in a cross-cultural, cross disciplinary for the possibility of novel, constructive, and imaginative work for the future of literary studies.

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Author Biography

Gabriel Chin, University of Sussex

Gabriel Chin is a part-time PhD student at the University of Sussex working in the fruitful intersection between literature and philosophy. His work studies the cross-cultural connections between Japanese author, Murakami Haruki and American writer, Don DeLillo in conversation with the philosophical movement known as Object-Oriented Ontology. His project develops an ethics for everyday life within today’s Anthropocene era based on Murakami’s and DeLillo’s writing, focusing on how these authors’ literary styles foreground the persistence of objects of all scales amidst the totalising flux of neoliberal capitalism.

References

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