The Age has an interesting article on the author, and it includes some titbits that I was previously unaware of:
Despite what Japan's most hidebound pundits argue, Murakami's writing has always been closer to his homeland than the fictional universes of Fitzgerald, Carver and Chandler. Occidental critics ritually compare Murakami with postmodernists such as Don DeLillo and Thomas Pynchon. But in Japan, as Murakami tells it, "people do not think my stories are postmodern". In Japanese spirituality, the divide between the real and the fantastic is permeable, so his tales of unicorn skulls, six-foot frogs, star-patterned sheep and Colonel Sanders are "very natural".Ah, gotta love Japanese surrealism.