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After Dark

1 rating: 1.0
A book by Haruki Murakami

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 … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Author: Haruki Murakami
Publisher: Vintage
1 review about After Dark

Strangers in the night: intriguing and unsettling, but highly inconclusive

  • Aug 15, 2008
Lost souls in Tokyo.

A girl whose sister decided to go to sleep and still hasn't woken up a few months later. She can't stand sleeping in the next room, so finds ways to stay out all night. Hangs out at Denny's.

A kid in a band who once had a crush on the sister; now intrigued by the girl in Denny's.

A former female wrestler, now manager of a "love hotel" -- where a Chinese prostitute gets beaten up by a frustrated businessman.

The businessman who doesn't like to go home at night either, works all night and occasionally hires prostitutes.

The sleeping sister, who is being watched by a man on the other side of a television screen. At times the sister also appears on the other side of the television screen -- trapped, confused, lost. A metaphor for someone whose identity is bound up in representations: a model?

The enigmatic watcher, who has gotten dirty somehow, and we never know why.

It's an intriguing constellation of characters, who circle vaguely around one another, but whose trajectories never quite develop into a compelling story. All inconclusive in the end.

There is a speculative edge here: something to do with sleep as a metaphor for inaction, or for the condition of being nothing more than an image, a model, an empty ideal. This element felt undeveloped to me: mere speculation without anything conclusive.

This is the second book I've read by Murakami, and I don't know if this is true of all his works but both translations sound a little odd. Reading him is almost like reading subtitles for a foreign film. It never quite sounds right, but suggests something intriguing behind it all. The Wild Sheep Chase worked for me: odd and twisty, but with intriguing ideas that went somewhere. In this case I'm not sure. I might have to read it again, but first impressions on a first look aren't strong enough to motivate the second read.

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