I just completed my first book for The Japanese Challenge “After Dark” by
Haruki Murakami. This was also in fact my first Japanese novel ever.
“After Dark” starts in a Denny’s, a comfortable familiar place in the night world of Tokyo. The characters in the story are at once beautifully individuated with just a few brush strokes.
“She reads with great concentration. Her eyes rarely move from the pages of her book….She just keeps reading her book, lighting an occasional cigarette, mechanically tipping back her coffee cup, and hoping the time moves faster”.
As the book proceeds we are drawn further into the Tokyo night world. We meet a number of interesting people along the way. Like Dickens and Balzac before him Marukami brings to light aspects of the city that fall below the radar of those safely out of the margins.
“The garbage trucks have not yet collected all of the garbage. This a giant city, after all, and it produces a prodigious amount of garbage”.
A central character in the novel, Mari, uses her books to hide, to make her self invisible. She lives partially in the shadow of her sister’s beauty. Mari is a reader as hider. The Tokyo night world also helps her hide. She and we learn to read the night and the city from writers like Murakami.
I like “After Dark” a lot. It was a good first Japanese novel for me as it is not hard to read at all and it is not that long
I liked reading your take on After Dark and looking forward to reading many others' reviews! I read and reviewed this one in 2007 - loved it!
After Dark was the first Murakami novel I read. I loved how he depicted the city, as you wrote, bringing to life so many aspects of it. I could feel myself sitting in the Denny's with them eating that chicken salad...I still am unclear about the girl sleeping in the bed; I'll have to reread it and think about it some more. I'm so glad that you enjoyed this first book of Japanese literature as you venture into the genre.
This is the first book I'll be reading for the challenge, too! What a great review - you've made me even more anxious to get started.
Congratulations! This was also the first Japanese book that I've read (from last year). I became a fan of Murakami ever since... I like what you said that "the characters in the story are at once beautifully individuated with just a few brush strokes"... Murakami really is great in shaping rich characters :)
Hope you enjoy the rest of your readings!
After Dark was my first Japanese novel ever as well. Now to be fair, I had read Murakami's short story collection After the Quake just before reading After Dark. I love this novel. It certainly was one of my favorite reads last year and it secured Murakami is a spot as one of my new favorite authors. I am so impressed with the way he tells a story and I easy got wrapped up in the life of Mari and the people she came in contact with throughout the story. I enjoyed her sister's story as well, but was more interested in and impressed with Mari's story.
Glad you enjoyed it.
What a great review! I have a few books to go before I'm able to get to my Japanese Challenge books, but will have to put this book down on my list as well! And Murakawa is my first choice in authors too! I look forward to your other reviews!
I like Haruli Murakami and his interesting way of telling stories ... It's very hard to read this author if you don't have imagination and don't believe in magic ... My first book by Murakami and for now the only one was " Kafka on the shore " - it was sth new for me, because I'm not a huge fan of this kind of books,but it won't be the last. May be I'll try this one " After dark" ... :)))
I'm looking forward to reading this novel, though I've not even got a copy yet. Murakami is one of my favourite novelists.
I'm also a Murakami fan. I really liked After Dark but didn't understand the sleeping sister bit. Maybe we're not supposed to...
My favorite Murakami is Wild Sheep Chase.
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