Monday, 18 July 2011

Book of the Week - Week Two

Time once again for ....


In honor of this week being one year since moving to Japan, I picked this week's book from one of Japan's most famous authors, Haruki Murakami. An important figure in postmodern literature, Murakami has written many books that have been published to great acclaim all over the world.

The book I have chosen, After Dark, is by no means one of his most famous. You'd have to find Kafka on the Shore or Norwegian Wood for those. No, this is a short little novel he published in 2004 (2007 for us English speakers) but my favorite simply because it was the first of his I read.

A short novel at 208 pages, it takes place in the lives of several people over the span of one night in Tokyo. A student studying at Denny's. A manager at a love hotel. A girl in a deep sleep at home. Each of these characters, as well as several others, manage to intertwine their lives with those around them yet stay a distant presence at the same time.

An interesting look into the alienation of life in a big city, the thing I find most amazing about this book is the way it reads. The only way I can think to describe it is that it reads like watching a play. The images are so clear and so direct that it just happens in your mind's eye. And although there is no doubt as to what is happening, there is a vagueness and murkiness about it, too, as if the reader should be looking deeper or finding the meaning to the hollow areas.

It may not be his most famous piece or one of the deepest things you've ever read but it's a good taste of Murakami and a good starting book. If you have some time to sit down, it's a fast, interesting read. 

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