Japanese cult author Haruki Murakami has been awarded Spain's Order of Arts and Letters, the Spanish government announced Friday.
The award is "in recognition of the creative personality of a very original narrative voice, a creator of literary work who has become a leading reference for contemporary literature," the ministry of culture said.
"Since the publication in Spain of his novel 'A Wild Sheep Chase' he has enjoyed considerable success among the Spanish public," it said in a statement.
Murakami, 60, a former Tokyo jazz bar owner often mentioned as a Nobel literature prize contender, has struck a global chord with his sensitive tales of the absurdity and loneliness of modern life.
His novels, which have been translated into almost 40 languages, also include "Norwegian Wood," "Kafka on the Shore" and "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle."
His latest work, "1Q84", became an instant bestseller when it was released in Japan in May.