After Dark Hardcover – May 8 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
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 trombonist and soon-to-be law student Tetsuya Takahashi walks into a late-night Denny's, he espies Mari Asai, 19, sitting by herself, and proceeds to talk himself back into her acquaintance. Tetsuya was once interested in plain Mari's gorgeous older sister, Eri, whom he courted, sort of, two summers previously. Murakami then cuts to Eri, asleep in what turns out to be some sort of menacing netherworld. Tetsuya leaves for overnight band practice, but soon a large, 30ish woman, Kaoru, comes into Denny's asking for Mari: Mari speaks Chinese, and Kaoru needs to speak to the Chinese prostitute who has just been badly beaten up in the nearby "love hotel" Kaoru manages. Murakami's omniscient looks at the lives of the sleeping Eri and the prostitute's assailant, a salaryman named Shirakawa, are sheer padding, but the probing, wonderfully improvisational dialogues Mari has with Tetsuya, Kaoru and a hotel worker named Korogi sustain the book until the ambiguous, mostly upbeat dénouement. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
Murakami's celebrated oeuvre falls into two easily distinguished categories: there are the broad-canvas epics (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, 1997, for example), which meld genres, distort reality, and posit alternate worlds with abandon but do it all on the crest of an almost Dickensian tidal wave of story. And there are the small-scale, disarmingly intimate, almost tactile short novels (Sputnik Sweetheart, 2001, among others), jewel-like examinations of loneliness and secret selves. His latest effort falls into the second camp: the action takes place during one long Tokyo night, from midnight to dawn, and centers on two sisters, one, Eri, a fashion model, does nothing but sleep (though she may or may not drift between worlds in the process); her college-student sister, Mari, on the other hand, refuses to sleep, spending the night first drinking coffee in a Denny's and then in a series of encounters with an ever-more-strange group of night people, ranging from an introspective jazz musician to a Chinese prostitute, to the earth-motherish proprietor of a "love hotel." The narrative flows like a jazz ballad, excruciatingly slow yet hypnotically entrancing ("Time moves in its own way in the middle of the night," opines a bartender. "You can't fight it"). Each character is unique in his or her form of loneliness, yet each possesses a capacity for momentary empathy that is both sweet and heartbreaking. Murakami's genius, on both large and small canvases, is to create worlds both utterly alien and disconcertingly familiar. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
This magical realism story is an intimate narrative that follows the interwoven storylines between a number of disparate characters: Mari, a young student determined to spend the night away from home; Eri, her sister, a fashion model who's been slumbering inexplicably for the last two months; Takahashi, a jazz trombonist who stumbles upon Mari and recognizes her; Kaoru, the manager of a "love hotel" and her staff; a Chinese prostitute brutalized by a customer; Shirakawa, the businessman who beat up the hooker. After Dark explores how these men and women are all related, with everything occurring during the span of a single Tokyo night.
In this flawless translation, Haruki Murakami's impeccable, evocative prose expounds on the different states of loneliness.
The dialogues, even when they appear innocuous, show a lot of insight, while the deep and more thoughtful conversations are a delight.
Still, it's the atmosphere created by the author which makes After Dark a special read. The ambience is sublime, as if the night became a character in its own right. The darkness becomes a time of revelations, a period of transition in the lives of the cast.
As a short, sleek book, After Dark is perfect for the beach, the plain, or the train. Bring this one along with you on vacation and you won't be disappointed!
The most impressive aspect of this novella is how Murakami courageously battles new genres and themes in each of his works. This novella beautifully compliments his other works. And while it may not be as thorough and rich as "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" or "Kafka on the Shore", reading "After Dark" was as luxurious and hedonistic as slowly sipping a fine glass of red wine. I found myself "biting off and chewing it one line at a time" just as Mari does her own book in "After Dark."
Murakami deserves more than five stars! An excellent piece indeed.
Most recent customer reviews
I love this book! And it is so interesting in Chinese. And I will read more books about Haruki Murakami.Published on Jan. 21 2014 by Suvi