Books

after the quake by Haruki Murakami (Knopf, 2002)

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“The Earthquake Man.He came in and woke me up.He told me to tell you.He said he has the box ready for everybody.He said he’s waiting with the lid open…”

Haruki Murakami possesses this amazing, unmatched ability to entrance his readers with his haunting words and mystical ideas while making his stories seem completely rational in all their incredulousness.The line between the real and the surreal in Murakami’s world is vague, if defined at all.Normally I have to approach a piece of literature with a “suspension of disbelief”, willing to put my logic and reasoning on pause in order to fully immerse myself in the book.Murakami displays such a deep investment in his characters and their outrageous encounters that a suspension of disbelief is unnecessary.I want to believe the stories myself.

Murakami’s style in after the quake remains consistent in his observation of the social conscience of modern-day Japan, though he does stray slightly from his usual (to use the word “usual” does Murakami an injustice-there is nothing “usual” about him) fantastical elements.This collection of six stories revolves around the devastating earthquake that killed over 6,400 people in Kobe, Japan, in 1995.Ranging from a young man desperately following a stranger who might be his father and who’s been told that he is the “son of God,” to an average collection agent recruited by a gigantic frog to save humankind through fighting a monstrous worm under the Earth’s shell, to an author passionately in love with his college friend, Murakami’s stories focus not on the earthquake itself, but the human aftershock-as soon as we think we’re on solid ground the earth opens up beneath us and we find that everything we think we know about ourselves is fragile, subject to shatter our very beings.The characters in this collection drastically differ from one another in their lifestyles and ambitions but they all share the same fear:that if they don’t lead a meaningful existence, if they don’t prove the significance of their lives, in a moment’s time the earth could open up and swallow them forever…

A satisfying, quick read, but I wouldn’t recommend using after the quake as an introduction to Murakami’s gift as a storyteller.7/10

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About the author

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2 Comments

  • Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman is the only book that I have of his. So this is worth checking out?

  • All of his stuff is worth checking out-after the quake is good for a quickie. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman is better

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