Tales of upheaval and confusion, longing and love in the aftermath of the Kobe earthquake
In 1978, Haruki Murakami was 29 and running a jazz bar in downtown Tokyo. One April day, the impulse to write a novel came to him suddenly while watching a baseball game. That first novel, Hear the Wind Sing, won a new writers' award and was published the following year. More followed, including A Wild Sheep Chase and Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, but it was Norwegian Wood, published in 1987, which turned Murakami from a writer into a phenomenon. His books became bestsellers, were translated into many languages, including English, and the door was thrown wide open to Murakami's unique and addictive fictional universe.
Noted Japanese author Murakami (Sputnik Sweetheart) offers six short stories set around the time of the devastating 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Kobe, which killed thousands in January 1995. The stories are very loosely woven together by passing references made to the tragic event. Focusing on the relationships between people who are all broken by life, the stories include "UFO in Kushiro," in which a salesman comes home one day to find himself abandoned by his wife, who has left him a note and later asks for a divorce; "All God's Children Can Dance," which tells the story of Yoshiya, a man born out of wedlock to a religiously zealous woman (even being told by her that his birth was "divine") who later goes out in search of his father; and "Honey Pie," which describes the longstanding friendships of three college friends, a single man and a married couple, who grow older together wondering about the state of their relationships after the couple's divorce. However, in "Super-Frog Saves Tokyo," Murakami uses earthquakes as the central theme; here a giant talking frog shows up in a man's apartment and asks him for his assistance in saving Tokyo from a major earthquake. Murakami's writing examines the state of the human condition in a manner similar to that of National Book Award winner Ha Jin, but Murakami's stories often end abruptly, leaving readers to determine for themselves how the stories are to be resolved, if at all. Public and academic libraries with collections of Murakami's work will probably want to add this one. Shirley N. Quan, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
In a dance with the delights of Murakami's imagination we
experience the limitless possibilities of fiction. With these
stories Murakami expands our hearts and minds yet again * The Times
Ushers the reader into a hallucinatory world where the real and surreal merge and overlap, where dreams and real-life nightmares are impossible to tell apart...this slender volume, deftly translated by Jay Rubin, may serve as a succinct introduction to his imaginative world...Lewis Carroll meets Kafka with a touch of Philip K. Dick * New York Times *
Dazzlingly elegant...In a world where even the ground beneath our feet can't be relied on, imagination becomes less of a luxury and more of a duty. It's an obligation that Murakami is busily making his raison d'etre, to our very great advantage * Guardian *
In the world of literary fiction, Haruki Murakami is unquestionably a superstar...Many critics have touted Murakami for the Nobel Prize. If he can stay on this kind of form, he could be in with a chance * Scotland on Sunday *
Murakami is a unique writer, at once restrained and raw, plainspoken and poetic * Washington Post *
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. (Aug. 20) Forecast: The thematic urgency of this collection should give readers an extra reason to pick it up; Murakami's track record will do the rest. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.