I was surprised to see Haruki Murakami's Hear The Wind Sing at the bookstore (I think it was Tower Records, but it could have been Kinokuniya), and for only 680 yen! It is his first novel that was published in English for English language learners by Kodansha in 1987, it was originally published in japanese in 1979. I had assumed that it was out of print. It is a thin Japanese sized volume (about 6X6 inches) and only 128 pages plus Japanese translation notes-pefect for reading on the train. Incidently, his second novel, Pinball 1973, is equally difficult to find, and to date the only Murakami book that I haven't read. I've heard that he isn't so impressed with his early work and isn't interested in republishing them.
This novel may have been the precursor to two of his other novels, The Wild Sheep Chase and Norwegian Wood. The unnamed narrator and his friend Rat reappeared in The Wild Sheep Chase, and the ruminations on whimsical girls is a precursor to Norwegian Wood. The average disconnected everyman narrator of few words floats through a summer drinking excessively with his friend Rat, contemplating life (the three girl friend he had that he can no longer remember), and romancing a mysterious nien fingered girl. This story doesn't have any of the fantastic elements of his later novels, which is something I appreciate, but it seems to be a collage of ideas and observations rather than a coherent novel, but it shows the promise of a potentially astute novelist. I see the germination of his style, ideas that will be used in later works, and characterizations that he fleshes out over time.
BONUS: There was an interview last week with Murakami about his translation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby in The Daily Yomuiri, which unfortunately isn't availabel on-line. However, there was an article about a panel discussion of Murakami's impact on Asia that you can read here.