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

Gabriel Chin


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.


Murakami Haruki; Don DeLillo; Object-Oriented Ontology; Realism; Capitalism

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