Japanese author Haruki Murakami, whose surreal works peppered with references to pop culture have earned him a cult following, won one of Spain’s top literary prizes Wednesday. The 74-year-old bestselling author of “Norwegian Wood” and “Kafka on the Shore” is known for his intricate tales of the absurdity and loneliness of modern life, which have been translated into about 50 languages.

The foundation that organizes the Princess of Asturias award hailed “the uniqueness of his literature, its universal scope and ability to reconcile Japanese tradition and the legacy of Western culture in an ambitious and innovative narrative.”

The 50,000-euro ($55,000) award is one of eight prizes for the arts, sport and scientific research handed out yearly by a foundation named for Crown Princess Leonor. Perennially tipped for a Nobel prize, Murakami is a reclusive figure. Readers are drawn into the so-called “Murakami world” where giant frogs challenge salarymen in battle and mackerel rain down from the sky. — AFP