Book Review – After Dark by Haruki Murakami

afterdarkcover

This is my second Murakami novel and perhaps the most peculiar novel I’ve ever read. Nevertheless, its really intriguing. This book was gifted to me by my wife on my birthday, so it has that special ring to it. Anyway, the things that stand out in this novel is the language. Its delicious and sticks to your memory, especially the parts on Eri Asai. The way Murakami has weaved mystical, dark elements into the narrative with delightfully formed sentences reflects the magical brilliance of his writing skills. I had to re-read several lines to taste their supreme beauty and appreciate the literary mastery behind them.

The narrative is dark and stylish and lures the ready immediately. The characters are also well etched – their flaws, their mannerisms defined well. The plot is set well too, promising a shocking or ghastly conclusion, but, unfortunately, the ending is quite disappointing and abrupt. This is perhaps a requirement for literary fiction, the reason for this which I don’t understand. Also the reason for the deduction of a solitary star. Nothing happens, and it leaves us with too much to think, too many blurry points to connect. What happened to the Man With No Face (on which so much time was initially invested)? What about Shirakawa (who was also supposed to be a major character)? Too much room for interpretation (in this way its similar to Norwegian Wood). As I continue in my reading journey, perhaps I’ll understand the rationale behind this someday.

The best part is the absence of sex which ‘Norwegian Wood’ was brimming with. This imparts an extra layer of class and maturity to the narrative. The conversations between Takahashi and Mari are normal yet dark and almost totally devoid of cheese (which was so easy for Murakami, or any writer for that matter, to succumb to). This was worth learning for a newbie writer like me, although its difficult to implement, I guess. Cheese spills out into our manuscript somehow, whether you want it or no.

Overall, its a mystical, stylish book with lyrical, exceptional language. But a distasteful, hazy ending which will leave you wanting for more. But, without a semblance of doubt, its a treat for the senses and a must read for fans of well-written fiction.

4.2 stars from my side.

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