After Dark

Title: After Dark
Original Writer (Japanese) : Haruki Murakami
Translated to English by: Jay Rubin
Originally Published in Japanese:  2004
Translated to English: 2007
Genre: Fiction
My Rating: 4 on 5

There are very few writers who can convey their inner thoughts and feelings and transport the reader to the world that exists only in the writer’s mind. Haruki Murakami is one such writer for whom this comes naturally. After Dark was my first Murakami book and I am kicking myself why I didn’t read this author earlier. I wouldn’t have tried Murakami if not for The Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge. I do not have anything against him, but never felt the urge to read his books. I ignored him as one of the Dan-Brown-type-hyped-up authors who doesn’t really have anything to offer. How wrong I was!

After Dark, as the title suggests, is set in Tokyo in the dark hours of midnight. The book spans over 7 hours in a cold night where we see interesting characters. We meet Mari, who is killing the night in Denny’s by reading a book where she bumps into Takahashi, a trombone player who is practising in a building nearby. He claims he has met her and her sister, Eri, at a summer date a few years back. The night proceeds and we see Mari’s help being sought by a female wrestler who runs a love hotel where one of her clients is injured and can only speak Chinese, which Mari is fluent in. One thing leads to another and many characters enter the scene only to realize they are all tightly bound together through one string or the other. Meanwhile, Eri – Mari’s sister, is deep asleep in a quasi-coma state and finds herself being transported to another world inside her television and back to her original room. We see a character’s image being reflected in the mirror even after the character has long gone. These scenes add to the already established surreality of the book.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

In this world, there are things you can only do alone, and things you can only do with somebody else. It’s important to combine the two in just the right amount

People’s memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive. Whether those memories have any actual importance or not, it doesn’t matter as far as the maintenance of life is concerned. They’re all just fuel.

Nothingness means there’s absolutely nothing, so maybe there’s no need to understand it or imagine it

Time moves in its own special way in the middle of the night. You can’t fight it

From the first word, Murakami’s surreal tone casts a spell on you. As soon as you open the book, you are transported to that cold night in Tokyo where you see Mari and Takahashi and still feel as if you are floating on air, watching the happenings beneath. The characters come out so beautifully that you can feel their pain and the loneliness. The book is divided into small chapters based on the time of the event and a clock at the beginning of every chapter keeps reminding us of the time.

Even after I finished reading the book, it still lingers over in my mind. I am constantly reminded about a dialogue or a scene or an action and I keep going back to that book. I can’t wait to start reading my next Murakami book. I am thinking of picking up his popular book Norwegian Wood. Any other suggestions?

This book qualifies for Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge 2011 and The New Author Challenge 2011.

5 Responses to “After Dark”

  1. JoV Says:

    I have read 8 Haruki Murakami’s books. When I read my first “The Hard-boiled Wonderland and End of the World” I was blown away by it. Over the years his writing style has evolved and he wrote a lot more emotional and romantic pieces. If you like it, Norwegian Wood could be your next, but you can also try “Sputnik Sweetheart” or “South of the Border, West of the Sun” which runs along the same theme. “The Wind-up bird Chronicle” and “Kafka on the Shore” are two of his famous one. Take your pick, abundance of joyful read from this author and definitely not Dan Brown! 😉

    • anaamica Says:

      Thanks for the suggestions, JoV. I am thinking of picking up Norwegian Wood and want to keep ‘Kafka on the shore’ for later. I think I need to know more about his writing before I read ‘Kafka’, so I will read his other books and save this for dessert.

  2. JoV Says:

    Scroll of the way down at my challenge reading page:

    and you will find tanabata is hosting a Haruki Murakami Challenge this year.

  3. bharat Says:

    It’s very easy to get lost in Murakami’s world. Such is the world he creates in each book of his with his writings. I have not read the book you have reviewed, but I’m kinda saving this for later this year. I’ve read Kafka on a windy train journey and have re-read it again. It is a great book. And very surreal like most of his other books. But I would suggest, if you haven’t picked his next book already, Norwegian Wood because it is his most endearing book and the characters that he creates in the book stay long after you’ve put down the book.

  4. Norwegian Wood « What I have been reading… Says:

    […] know that I have signed up for Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge and I read my first Murakami book After Dark as part of this challenge and also that I was thoroughly impressed with the book. Ever since I read […]

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