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After the Quake: Stories Paperback – May 13 2003

4.3 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (May 13 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375713271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375713279
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Haruki Murakami, a writer both mystical and hip, is the West's favorite Japanese novelist. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Murakami lived abroad until 1995. That year, two disasters struck Japan: the lethal earthquake in Kobe and the deadly poison gas attacks in the Tokyo subway. Spurred by these tragic events, Murakami returned home. The stories in After the Quake are set in the months that fell between the earthquake and the subway attack, presenting a world marked by despair, hope, and a kind of human instinct for transformation. A teenage girl and a middle-aged man share a hobby of making beach bonfires; a businesswoman travels to Thailand and, quietly, confronts her own death; three friends act out a modern-day Tokyo version of Jules and Jim. There's a surreal element running through the collection in the form of unlikely frogs turning up in unlikely places. News of the earthquake hums throughout. The book opens with the dull buzz of disaster-watching: "Five straight days she spent in front of the television, staring at the crumbled banks and hospitals, whole blocks of stores in flames, severed rail lines and expressways." With language that's never self-consciously lyrical or show-offy, Murakami constructs stories as tight and beautiful as poems. There's no turning back for his people; there's only before and after the quake. --Claire Dederer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

These six stories, all loosely connected to the disastrous 1995 earthquake in Kobe, are Murakami (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle; Norwegian Wood) at his best. The writer, who returned to live in Japan after the Kobe earthquake, measures his country's suffering and finds reassurance in the inevitability that love will surmount tragedy, mustering his casually elegant prose and keen sense of the absurd in the service of healing. In "Honey Pie," Junpei, a gentle, caring man, loses his would-be sweetheart, Sayoko, when his aggressive best friend, Takatsuki, marries her. They have a child, Sala. He remains close friends with them and becomes even closer after they divorce, but still cannot bring himself to declare his love for Sayoko. Sala is traumatized by the quake and Junpei concocts a wonderful allegorical tale to ease her hurt and give himself the courage to reveal his love for Sayoko. In "UFO in Kushiro" the horrors of the quake inspire a woman to leave her perfectly respectable and loving husband, Komura, because "you have nothing inside you that you can give me." Komura then has a surreal experience that more or less confirms his wife's assessment. The theme of nothingness is revisited in the powerful "Thailand," in which a female doctor who is on vacation in Thailand and very bitter after a divorce, encounters a mysterious old woman who tells her "There is a stone inside your body.... You must get rid of the stone. Otherwise, after you die and are cremated, only the stone will remain." The remaining stories are of equal quality, the characters fully developed and memorable. Murakami has created a series of small masterpieces.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The book is short, a mere 181 pages long. The six stories are short too. And they all left me with an uneasy feeling. I'm sure that was the author's intention. After all, each one takes plays in 1995, in the weeks after the Kobe earthquake. None of the stories are about the earthquake itself though. Rather, they all use it as a distant backdrop to develop memorable characters, each coming to terms with the concept of the earth shaking under their feet.

The stories are both real and surreal. The people in them are troubled. Some have allegorical stories within. And all have fully developed characters. There's a man who tries to understand why his former wife says he has nothing inside himself. There's a humanized frog who convinces a man that they have to save Tokyo from another earthquake. There's a woman who travels to Thailand and learns to deal with the fact of her own mortality. There are three friends who must come to terms with their strange love triangle which has gone on for many years. There's a man who loves to build bonfires. All of the themes seem a bit out of focus, like something is going on that I can't quite grasp.

Clearly, the author is talented. However the stories ended too abruptly for my taste. And, after each I had the same thought. "What was THAT about?"
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Format: Paperback
Having read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (and loved it) and then Kafka on the Shore (and not loved it), I was unsure how my third foray into Murakami-land would go. I'm happy to report that this short short story collection (6 stories, 147 pages) is a beautiful little book. The reason I chose this as my next Murakami was that I'm going to see the play based on the last two stories in the book and was interested to read them before I saw them performed.

Murakami's style works extremely well for short stories. Maybe better than it does for his novels (although, I have only read the two, so can't really say with any certainty). His writing is crystal clear in its simplicity, but also very complex in its metaphorical imagery. It's strange because you get the sense of a simple story, but also one that is deep and rich in meaning.

Each story centres around events in characters lives that take place after the 1995 Kobe earthquake in Japan, providing a nice link, however slim, for each of the six stories in the book. He explores different ways that events such as these can affect our lives and bleed into our minds over time. Murakami is known for his magic realist style, which informs much of these stories, with only one story in the book really deploying magic realism in any strength (super frog saves tokyo, where a frog appears to a man and tells him he must help him save Tokyo from an impending earth quake). The other stories are magical as well, but in the delicate language and subtlety of Murakami's writing.

I look forward to reading more Murakami short stories.
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Format: Hardcover
Two people look at the night sky. One sees darkness and dots of light. Another sees a thousand marvels.
As the shock of an earthquake wears off, a sort of soul-quake takes place. After all, if we can't rely on the ground under our feet to remain solid, what can we be certain of? Sometimes we KNOW that in the brain, but it takes an earthquake or terrorist attack for us to FEEL it in the gut -- for the knowing to be meaningful.
Something intangible but essential shakes loose in the people of Japan weeks after the Kobe earthquake. Like the rock mantle that once covered Kobe, neglected souls have liquefied. Now change is possible. For some, that means healing. For one, it means, not just losing, but unknowingly giving away his...soul(?). Another meets a heretofore hidden aspect of his Self. I guess it depends on what had been important in their lives and where they were headed before.
The stories are told gently, subtly and with respect. A writer's self-inflicted chains are broken and he finds his freedom. A dumpy, overly modest, milquetoast doormat of a man finds his true power. With the help of a guru/limo driver, a rock of hatred that even the soul-quake left intact is only now able to be recognized and dealt with.
I wouldn't presume to discuss Mr. Murakami's use of metaphor and allegory. I think each reader will find what s/he needs to find. ("When the student is ready....") That's one reason I'll be reading this book again soon: There's much to be found.
AFTER THE QUAKE, I suggest, is best read slowly and often, with soft and open awareness; it's to be contemplated upon.
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Format: Hardcover
Each of the short stories in the excellent "After the Quake" are linked to the terrible earthquake that shook Kobe in Jan'95. Although none are actually set in Kobe, the epicentre of the devastation, allusions to the disaster flit briefly into the radar of each story before quickly dipping out of sight again. Though the characters in these haunting stories are far removed from the scene of the tragedy, the earthquake, nonetheless, reverberates in subtle ways deep into their troubled lives.
"UFO" contains elements both of realism and surrealism. Komura's wife spends five intense days transfixed on the earthquake reports on her television, from morning to night, virtually unmoving, oblivious to all else. ("crumbled banks and hospitals, whole blocks of stores in flames, severed rail lines and expressways") Thereafter, abruptly, she deserts Komura. ("you have nothing inside you that you can give me with you is like living with a chunk of air") Komura, a salesman, is requested by Sasaki, a colleague to deliver a packaged box, contents unknown, to Hokkaido. At the receiving end, following a surreal experience, Komura is brought face to face with his own inner emptiness.
In "Landscape With Flat Iron", Junko, a young woman, enjoys the company of Miyake, a forty-something painter who lights midnight beach bonfires stacked from driftwood. Miyake can look at fires in the way "a sculptor can imagine the pose of a figure hidden in a lump of stone." Gazing at the shapes the bonfire makes elevates Junko to a higher plane of being; watching the fire, she gets "this deep, quiet kind of feeling" where revelations and deeper truths come to her.
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