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After Dark (Vintage International)by Haruki Murakami
Somewhere between the edge of sleep and wakefulness, After Dark resides. Told in one evening, with chapters indicated by time-stamps, Murakami's tale of both somnambulists and insomniacs is still, stark, and seductive. With a bonus delicious, "thriller-ish" story thread, After Dark is a little slice of Murakami heaven.
"After Dark is not Murakami's best work — there's an intrusive narrator spoon-feeding meaning you'd prefer to find on your own. But Murakami's humor and pop culture references remain, as do the underlying questions about the human condition....If only Nietzsche and Sartre had made questioning the meaninglessness of existence so fun." Anya Yurchyshyn, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)
Synopses & Reviews
A short, sleek novel of encounters set in the witching hours of Tokyo between midnight and dawn, and every bit as gripping as Haruki Murakami's masterworks The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Kafka on the Shore.
At its center are two sisters: Yuri, a fashion model sleeping her way into oblivion; and Mari, a young student soon led from solitary reading at an anonymous Denny's into lives radically alien to her own: those of a jazz trombonist who claims they've met before; a burly female love hotel manager and her maidstaff; and a Chinese prostitute savagely brutalized by a businessman. These night people are haunted by secrets and needs that draw them together more powerfully than the differing circumstances that might keep them apart, and it soon becomes clear that Yuri's slumber — mysteriously tied to the businessman plagued by the mark of his crime — will either restore or annihilate her.
After Dark moves from mesmerizing drama to metaphysical speculation, interweaving time and space as well as memory and perspective into a seamless exploration of human agency — the interplay between self-expression and understanding, between the power of observation and the scope of compassion and love. Murakami's trademark humor, psychological insight, and grasp of spirit and morality are here distilled with an extraordinary, harmonious mastery.
"Murakami's 12th work of fiction is darkly entertaining and more novella than novel. Taking place over seven hours of a Tokyo night, it intercuts three loosely related stories, linked by Murakami's signature magical-realist absurd coincidences. When amateur trombonist and soon-to-be law student Tetsuya Takahashi walks into a late-night Denny's, he espies Mari Asai, 19, sitting by herself, and proceeds to talk himself back into her acquaintance. Tetsuya was once interested in plain Mari's gorgeous older sister, Eri, whom he courted, sort of, two summers previously. Murakami then cuts to Eri, asleep in what turns out to be some sort of menacing netherworld. Tetsuya leaves for overnight band practice, but soon a large, 30ish woman, Kaoru, comes into Denny's asking for Mari: Mari speaks Chinese, and Kaoru needs to speak to the Chinese prostitute who has just been badly beaten up in the nearby 'love hotel' Kaoru manages. Murakami's omniscient looks at the lives of the sleeping Eri and the prostitute's assailant, a salaryman named Shirakawa, are sheer padding, but the probing, wonderfully improvisational dialogues Mari has with Tetsuya, Kaoru and a hotel worker named Korogi sustain the book until the ambiguous, mostly upbeat dnouement." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] pellucid dramatization of disconnection, alienation, the hunger for human contact and the strategies by which we all manage to 'make it through the night.' A seductive and gratifying intellectual and romantic adventure." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Each character is unique in his or her form of loneliness, yet each possesses a capacity for momentary empathy that is both sweet and heartbreaking. Murakami's genius, on both large and small canvases, is to create worlds both utterly alien and disconcertingly familiar." Booklist
"[A] bittersweet novel that will satisfy the most demanding literary taste....Murakami's fiction reminds us the world is broad, that myths are universal — and that while we sleep, the world out there is moving in mysterious and unpredictable ways." San Francisco Chronicle
"After Dark doesn't always hit the high notes, but it is, like Takahashi's music, straight-ahead jazz — with a quiet grace as likely to be overlooked as a snare shuffle." Los Angeles Times
"This strange, mesmerizing, spell-binding, voyeuristic novel is impossible to put down." Providence Journal
"After Dark is Murakami condensed. It's a very good place to become familiar with some of his interests (music) and themes (loneliness) in a truncated version. Nevertheless, do not neglect his rich, dense metaphysical novels." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"To readers unfamiliar with Murakami, After Dark may be the perfect place to start. All of the touchstones are there, the mix of physical and metaphysical, the blending of cultures, the imaginative story lines that are impossible to predict." Denver Post
A sleek, gripping novel of encounters set in Tokyo during the spooky hours between midnight and dawn, by an internationally renowned literary phenomenon.
Murakami's trademark humor, psychological insight, and grasp of spirit and morality are here distilled with an extraordinary, harmonious mastery. Combining the pyrotechnical genius that made Kafka on the Shore and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle international bestsellers, with a surprising infusion of heart, Murakami has produced one of his most enchanting fictions yet.
About the Author
Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into thirty-eight languages. The most recent of his many honors is the Franz Kafka Prize.
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