Book review: after the quake

after the quake- Haruki Murakami
When I bought this book, Rich laughed at me. He thinks it's silly to try and read all the books by one author. I don't agree. I'm not exclusively reading Murakami, and I'm not reading his books one after the other. In fact, this is only the second of his I've read this year so I don't think that's odd at all! The other thing I should point out is that I'm well aware the title should have capitals. Apparently Murakami insisted that the English translation should be entirely lower case, and who am I to argue? 

Anyway, after the quake is another series of short stories, all set after the Kobe earthquake of 1995. The stories all appear to be told from the narrative of an everyday 30-odd worker in Tokyo who is in someway connected with the earthquake. These links aren't always obvious, except in the case of the final story Super-Frog Saves Tokyo. This was one of my favourite stories, as it was the most recognisable as Murakami: A man needs to join forces with the 6ft talking frog that appears to him, in order to save Tokyo from an earthquake created by an angry worm the size of a train. When the narrator wakes up in hospital, he finds that during his deep sleep, he and Frog fought off worm successfully. This has all those overtones I love: What is a dream and what is reality? How much of your life as you know it is purely perception? Would you even know if your entire life was a dream constructed in your sleeping mind?
My favourite story, however, was Thailand. Satsuki is a middle-aged doctor, travelling to Thailand for a conference. There, she looks back over her life and thinks about the man she has hated for 30 years. There are only hints as to why she has lived her life praying for an earthquake in order to exact revenge on the man who turned her heart to stone. I've seen a few different interpretations online, which is something I love: Everyone's reading of the story is different based on their experiences. This story also has a wonderful quote that I totally agree with: "Still, Doctor, I do not have the slightest regret. If I could live my life over again, I would probably do exactly the same thing". 

After reading this, I was surprised to discover that this is one of Murakami's later books. There was something about it that felt as though he was just finding his feet: The lack of his trademark surrealism and a slight disconnection that makes it difficult to clearly recall the details of each story seem to belong to a less experienced author.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the stories and, on a quick second reading whilst writing this review, I think I appreciated the subtle layers of them even more. 

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  1. This sounds just up my street, thank you for notifying me of its existence!

  2. This is the only Murakami book I've actually read but I've been so interested in reading more (when I finally finish all the other books on my shelf) as you speak so highly of him! I loved this book. I loved how gripping each plot-line was and although it was anti-climatic at some points, I was left with a sense of wonderment for the way each story kept me thinking for days and days and days after finishing the book.

    1. Eek, I hope you like him! I'd hate for you to read a couple of his books and be like "Becky's talking rubbish" haha"!

  3. I've been meaning to pick this up for ages, I deffo need to make sure I have it for the summer :)

    Sophie x


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