Thursday, September 9, 2010

After Dark by Haruki Murakami

Reading Murakami means leaving your own sense of reality and following him into a magical landscape—a landscape that doesn't obey the laws of physics. Often I'm uncertain about what it all means, but I'm never bored.

The entire story takes place in Tokyo and spans the time from 11:56pm to 6:52 am. Mari, a young student, is at a table in Denny’s Restaurant drinking coffee. A musician joins her. During their conversation he finds out that she speaks Chinese. Later on he involves her in an incident at a Love Hotel where a Chinese prostitute is beaten and everything she owns is stolen. Because no one else speaks Chinese they are at a loss until the musician shows up with Mari.

While we enter into Mari's evening her sister is home sleeping. This isn't an ordinary sleep. She lies in a room that is emptied of furniture save for a television set. By some act of magical realism she is sometimes in her room and sometimes on the other side of the television set and we act as viewers.

Through the musician Mari meets a number of people while her sister sleeps. Her sister Eri had retreated to her bedroom two months prior to this night and has not emerged.

Real and unreal are mixed up with a shadow space between the two. Perhaps each character is asking the same questions: What does this all mean? Where do I belong? What is real? Do I have a place in this universe?

There's a change for Mari by the end of the book and possibly a change for her sister.

When I finished the book I asked myself some of the same questions.

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