Are any of you fans of the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami? I have read all his books except the first two, which are not yet widely available in the U.S. Although Murakami is a very private individual when it comes to his personal life, one is inclined to think that he has a negative view on religious groups, especially considering his harsh criticism of the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo cult, which was discussed in Underground (the book is a truly frightening look at what can happen when people fall under the spell of a religious fanatic). Japan is a largely nonreligious society, although many people incorporate certain aspects of Shinto and Buddhist practices into their lives.
There's something about Murakami's examination of the human psyche and its capability for imagination that draws me toward his novels, especially the more surrealistic ones, such as Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World and Kafka on the Shore. I just finished reading Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, which is more "real" than his other works but still explores the human mind and how it works.
I can't get enough Murakami, and almost wish I could read Japanese so that I wouldn't have to wait several years for his books to be translated into English! Much credit needs to be given to the translators, though—they have a remarkable ability to convey the author's voice into our language, unlike the translators of some other non-English authors that I've read (Stieg Larsson comes to mind . . . horrible).
Thanks for your comment and pointing out Murakami. Although I've heard a good deal of him I haven't read his work. I will now.