Synopses & Reviews
In 1995, the physical and social landscape of Japan was transformed by two events: the Kobe earthquake, in January, which destroyed thousands of lives, and the poison-gas attacks in the Tokyo subways in March, during the morning rush hour. Following these twin disasters, Haruki Murakami abandoned his life abroad and returned home to confront his country's grief. The subway attack led to his recent Underground
. And out of the quake come these six stories, set in the months between natural catastrophe and man-made terrorism. His characters find their resolutely normal everyday lives undone by events even more surreal (yet somehow believable) than we have come to expect in his fiction.
An electronics salesman, abruptly deserted by his wife, is entrusted to deliver a mysterious package but gets more than he bargained for at the receiving end; a Thai chauffeur takes his troubled charge to a seer, who penetrates her deepest sorrow; and, in the unforgettable title story, a boy acknowledges a shattering secret about his past that will change his life forever.
But the most compelling character of all is the earthquake itself — slipping into and out of view almost imperceptibly, but nonetheless reaching deep into the lives of these forlorn citizens of the apocalypse. The terrible damage visible all around is, in fact, less extreme than the inconsolable howl of a nation indelibly scarred — an experience in which Murakami discovers many truths about compassion, courage, and the nature of human suffering.
"Spare yet richly mysterious and emotionally prismatic....Murakami magically links the mythical past, when animals spoke to humans and dreams mattered, to today's anxious world, where...people stand on ever-shifting ground and valiantly offer a hand, and their love, to one another." Donna Seaman, Booklist (Starred Review)
"The world Murakami's characters live in has an atmosphere a bit like that of the first season of Twin Peaks; it is both ordinary and spooked, trivial and full of portents....This is a slim book, but you'll need to read it twice....The subconscious is Murakami's natural habitat, and sometimes these stories seem to be dreaming of each other, their elements taking on different forms, picking up the threads dropped earlier. They are enigmatic without being obscure; by the second reading you'll know what the author is trying to say, even if you can't quite nail it down in so many words.....It is only superficially a story collection; seldom have I read another that feels more like a whole rather than a collection of parts. This is breathtakingly close to a flawless book, but in a very modest way....[I]ts perfection is there to be savored by those who know how to look." Laura Miller, Salon.com
A collection of stories set in the aftermath of the 1995 Kobe earthquake.
The six stories in Haruki Murakami's mesmerizing collection are set at the time of the catastrophic 1995 Kobe earthquake, when Japan became brutally aware of the fragility of its daily existence. But the upheavals that afflict Murakami's characters are even deeper and more mysterious, emanating from a place where the human meets the inhuman.
An electronics salesman who has been abruptly deserted by his wife agrees to deliver an enigmatic package — and is rewarded with a glimpse of his true nature. A man who has been raised to view himself as the son of God pursues a stranger who may or may not be his human father. A mild-mannered collection agent receives a visit from a giant talking frog who enlists his help in saving Tokyo from destruction. As haunting as dreams, as potent as oracles, the stories in After the Quake are further proof that Murakami is one of the most visionary writers at work today.
About the Author
Born in Kyoto, Japan, in 1949, Haruki Murakami grew up in Kobe and now lives near Tokyo. The most recent of his many honors is the Yomiuri Literary Prize, whose previous recipients include Yukio Mishima, Kenzaburo Oe, and Kobo Abe. His work has been translated into twenty-seven languages.