On Thursday, Haruki Murakami's British publishers announced they'd be including a packet of stickers (yes stickers) with every copy of his forthcoming novel Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. Why pair stickers with a sophisticated work of literary fiction? The publisher's creative director said her "young son's delight" in stickers inspired her. The ploy is accidentally brilliant (we're talking about the book, aren't we?) but the execution leaves something to be desired: the stickers the publisher has released lack context and just don't seem very ... Murakami-esque. Steering wheels? A vase with flowers?
Any reader who's made it through at least two or three Murakami novels knows that he leans on the same collection of tropes and motifs time and time and time again: sad middle-aged men, parallel worlds, young suicide, and of course, cats. That's what made the New York Times' "Murakami Bingo" such a hit. You'd only need to read about 50 pages in any of his novels to fill your whole damn Bingo card.
So we'd like to present an alternate set of stickers and an idea that's basically a bibliophile's drinking game: every time you see a Classic Murakami Trope, slap a sticker on the spot. You'll need about 100 sheets and by the end every ounce of text will be covered up. A lonely protagonist passes a sleepless night? Pillow sticker it up. Creepy ear fetishes wiggle their way in to the text? Sticker. A talking cat jumps down a well whilst the protagonist cooks some spaghetti? That's a three-pointer.
Behold, the only Murakami stickers you'll ever need: