December 11, 2008

After Dark - Haruki Murakami AND Challenge Completed!

After Dark by Haruki Murakami was the last book I needed to read to complete the Orbis Terrarum Challenge - yay me!

My friend over at Thyme for Tea has also read this one and recommended it to me. This book is definitely a different reading choice for me - I tend to stay grounded very firmly in the "real" world - not reading very much fantasy/science fiction type novels and certainly not branching out into surreal worlds such as the one where Murakami takes you in this novel. Having said that, I didn't actually find reading this book such a struggle in the end - the writing is conversational and easy to follow (even if the plot wanders a little).

The main story in After Dark seems to be the relationship between two sisters, Mari and Eri. Mari is spending the night in the city - she claims she is not tired and we find out that she has reasons for not wanting to return home that night. Eri is Mari's older and more beautiful sister, she has been in a deep, sleeping beauty like sleep for two months now and Mari fears that Eri does not want to ever wake up.

Other characters enter the worlds of Mari and Eri throughout the story, probably the most likeable being the musician and budding law student, Takahashi who supports Mari at various stages throughout the long night and encourages her to talk about herself.

This book is surreal - TV's coming on for no particular reason, the narrator being able to swap views seemingly at will - but I actually didn't find it all that far removed from reality at the end - I was able to focus on the human emotion without getting caught up in the surreal elements, or at least not letting them distract me too much. I'm not sure if that is how you are supposed to read a Murakami book but it allowed me to enjoy the novel so I guess it can't be a bad thing!


Mari said...

I keep seeing books by Haruki Murakami and they all look interesting. This sounds good as well.

Nadia said...

Murakami books are very interesting reads. He is an amazing author. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is one of my favorites of his. I have not read After Dark but it is on my TBR list.

Iliana said...

I've been meaning to read this book! If you are looking for another Murakami to try, I recommend Sputnik Sweetheart.

Congrats on completing your challenge!

tanabata said...

Congratulations on completing the challenge! I'm looking forward to reading After Dark sometime soon. The first couple times I tried to read Murakami, I just couldn't accept the surreal story lines, but now I'm a fan. Kafka on the Shore will be one of my top reads for the year.

Karen said...

Hi Mari - definitely an interesting book. As I said in the review - not my usual read but I am really glad I branched out and gave it a go.
Hi Nadia - I agree, an amazing author - such a mind! I will look out for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.
Hi Iliana - Thanks for the recommendation! It seems I am one of the last readers to discover this author.
Hi Tanabata - Thanks! I definitely feel a sense of achievement having finished this challenge - it was the very first challenge I signed up for when I started blogging earlier this year.

Sarah said...

It's hard not to have seen Murakami's books around, they've been so heavily promoted. I must confess I've avoided them as fantasy/sci-fi/surreal fiction isn't my usual cup-of-tea. Your review is encouraging though, I will have to give him a try.

Karen said...

Hi Sarah - it sounds like you have steered away from these books for the same reasons as me! I would definitely say give them a try - I'm thinking it might have been a case of the right book at the right time for me.