After Dark by Haruki Murakami
Published in: 2004
Translated from Japanese by Jay Rubin
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: 4 stars
Find it here: After Dark
Synopsis: (from the Back Cover): Eyes mark the shape of the city
The midnight hour approaches in an almost-empty diner. Mari sips her coffee and reads a book, but soon her solitude is disturbed: a girl has been beaten up at the Alphaville hotel, and needs Mari’s help.
Meanwhile Mari’s beautiful sister Eri lies in a deep, heavy sleep that is ‘too perfect, too pure’ to be normal; it has lasted for two months. But tonight as the digital clock displays 00:00, a hint of life flickers across the television screen, even though it’s plug has been pulled out.
Strange nocturnal happenings, or a trick of the night?
Review: If you read our featured author post you will know that I love Murakami’s writing and this book was no exception. From the moment I read the back cover, I had a happy warm feeling in my tummy. I knew this was going to be a good read. The front cover just calls out to you “read me, read me.” The only problem with this book is that it is short. I could have stayed wandering around Tokyo at night much longer than the time Murakami allowed me.
From the opening lines of the book we, the readers, are told that we are voyeurs. We can watch what happens in the city. We can zoom in on bits that interest us, but we cannot get involved. We cannot influence anything. We cannot be heard and we are entirely neutral.
The book is set on a midwinter’s night between the hours of 11:56pm and 6:52am in Tokyo. It revolves around 3 central characters: the beautiful Eri who has decided to sleep and not wake up; her intelligent sister Mari who cannot sleep; and Takahashi a young musician who provides a link between the 2 sisters.
While Eri sleeps her beautiful sleep, Mari stays awake in the city where she encounters Takahashi in a Denny’s restaurant. Their meeting leads her to be pulled into the life of the “Night People.” Night people are those who are more at home after the sun has gone down — the insomniacs, prostitutes, and others who prefer the night.
While there is some action in this book, it’s more about feelings and perceptions than about plot development. There is violence and vengeance, and in true Murakami style there are mystical and magical moments and cats!! How do you know you are reading a Murakami? Because there are always cats.
This is a stylized book and I can easily see it being made into a noir film as the story really lends itself to the visual.
For those who like a proper ending with all the loose ends tied up, this is not the book for you (nor is any other Murakami book). There are several mysterious events that are not explained and are just left dangling when the sun rises. Murakami has created a place that exists only after dark and so until the next time the sun sets the mysteries will have to stay mysteries.
Want to try if for yourself? You can find it here: After Dark
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