Review: After Dark

After Dark
After Dark

By Haruki Murakami
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780307278739, April 2008, 256pp.)

The Short of It:

Mesmerizing.

The Rest of It:

I don’t spend  a lot of late evenings out. But, I have been known to hit a late movie once in awhile and when I do, I am always amazed at how many people are out so late at night. It’s as if there is this whole other world from say, 11pm (late for me) to early morning. Well, After Dark is all about that. Mari is sitting alone in a Denny’s, reading her book when a young musician named Takahashi asks to sit at her table. Confused as to why a complete stranger would want to sit with her, he explains that they have met before and that he dated Mari’s sister, Eri. As the conversation continues, Mari learns that Takahashi’s band practices in a basement nearby, and that he sometimes visits Denny’s for a meal. He offers to hook-up with her again if she ever wants to, which she politely turns down.

Later that same evening, a woman by the name of Kaoru is sent to find Mari at the Denny’s, because she is in need of a Chinese interpreter. Turns out that there is a young prostitute that needs her help. Takahashi, wh0 sometimes works for Kaoru doing odd jobs around the “love hotel” remembered that Mari speaks both Japanese and Chinese and figured she’d be the perfect person to help out. As the evening plays out, Takahashi learns more about Mari and her sister Eri, who seems to have a severe sleeping problem and has been asleep for over two months straight.

What does any of this mean? Who knows? It’s the wondrous, dreamy world of a Murakami novel. There are moments of pure brilliance and moments where you aren’t quite sure what is going on, but never at any time are you bored. Out of all the Murakami novels I’ve read so far, this one probably had the least amount of action, but it left me with many questions. I caught myself thinking about these characters at odd times. Especially the sleeping sister. Was she depressed? Did she enter an alternate universe during slumber?

Needless to say, I was highly amused by this one and each time I read a Murakami novel I am left with this feeling that there is a greater something out there. I’m not talking spiritually here, but more other worldly. I think that is why I am endlessly fascinated by Murakami’s writing. If I could shrink him down and put him in my pocket, I would. That would be weird though.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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22 thoughts on “Review: After Dark”

  1. I reviewed this book in 2007 and submitted it again for the Murakami Challenge 2012 being hosted by tanabata. I could relate to the characters, having an older sister who was ill and bedridden, and being upset about it, of course. Tokyo at night was also interesting. Very interesting review!

  2. My sister is a HUGE fan of Japanese and Chinese cinema, and on many occasions I have watched some of her recommendations. And I must say that what you have described here is quite a bit similar to these movies. There isn’t always a point, but is more about the mood and the journey. One of my top goals for 2012 is to read Murakami (probably Kafka on the Shore) and see where that leads me.

  3. From you review, about the obscure dreamscape, is it anything resembling the style of Ishiguro? I’m a Ishiguro fan, but I admit I haven’t read Murakami. I have the feeling that he may be too surreal for me. Anyway, thanks for another informative review. I look forward to more of such posts in the coming year. Have a Happy New Year, you and your family, Ti!

  4. I have to laugh at Jill’s comment above because when you said “what does this mean” “who knows?” I sort of laughed too. I can get frustrated when I don’t “get” things in a book. BUT I’m totally intrigued and will definitely be adding Murakami to my must read authors list for 2012!!

    1. I don’t like it when an author leads you by the hand and pretty much tells you what to think. I always have my own opinions on what is going on or what is being said, and I never feel wrong. I just know that he writes in a way that could go in many different directions. He leaves it totally up to the reader. He trusts us to get it right 🙂

  5. I think it’s so cute that you want to shrink Murakami and put him in your pocket, and I don’t think it’s weird at all. I would love to do that with Charles Dickens, but he would probably be smelly, because he’s been dead for quite awhile!

    This does indeed sound like an interesting book, and though it moves sort of slowly, I can see why you were so enraptured with it. This is my year for giving Murakami a chance, and I can’t wait to see what I think!

  6. This Murakami sounds fascinating and entertaining. I like it when a book is well-written and absorbing but leaves you thinking about it and asking questions about the book, the characters etc. and about life.

    I’d love to know what Murakami thinks about your desire to carry mini-Murakami in your pocket – maybe he’d make up a story for you while you carried him around with you!

    1. A girl, carrying around a miniaturized Japanese author could easily be a character in a Murakami book. Maybe I will inspire him. LOL. Notice how I called myself a girl.

  7. You have me so intrigued to read his fiction!! I bought Norwegian Wood to start with.

    And I just fell in love with the last two lines of your review.

    Wishing you a happy 2012 with lots of 5 star books!

  8. Murakami is one of the authors I am looking forward to reading this year. I loved his Kafka, and many of his other books are on my wishlist. After Dark sounds just as dreamy as his other books.

  9. Ti, I loved this book! So happy to see that you enjoyed it as well. I agree with you about Murakami – there is just something magical about his writing and creativity that really inspires you to think and feel as if there really is something more out there in the world. Great post!

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