Last Spring Break, I read 8 novels: three of which were written by Haruki Murakami and two of them I fell in love with. I hope to continue my romance with Murakami this Summer as I explore new worlds, genuine stories, and uncanny narratives.
I had previously read Murakami, but just novellas (The Strange Library) and a short story (TV People). I liked him fine, but did not realize that there was still a whole new world left to explore.
Below are my short reviews or takes on the novels I have read by him lately.
1. After Dark
I started with After Dark and was initially very underwhelmed. It was a story about a girl who read books and drank coffee at Denny’s… of course, afterwards an unimaginable story breaks in, but the writing fell flat for me. The characters were unlikeable and the plot was not as interesting as I expected it to be.
2. The Colorless Life of Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
I fell head over heels with this brilliant novel. This book consumed me from beginning to end so much that I stayed up until 3:00 am once to continue reading it. Murakami wrote a genuine, intelligent story about a relatively young man and the way with which he needed to deal with his past in order to move on with his life. It was an incredible mystery and love story (and not a boy meets girl type of love story). The characters all had their moment to shine and connect with our colorless protagonist. This is definitely a Murakami must-read!
3. Norwegian Wood
I was a little hesitant to read this novel because (a) I had just finished The Colorless Life of Tsukuri Tazaki and did not want to be disappointed,(b) it’s one of Murakami’s most read novels, and (c) I’m always wary to read something named after a Beatles song. Nonetheless, as soon as I started reading, it I was unable to stop myself. Murakami, yet again, writes an intelligent, beautiful story about genuine people and their lives. I understand why this novel is so popular! It is amazing!
4. A Wild Sheep Chase
I was curious about this one because Murakami seems to be obsessed with sheep! He writes about the Sheep Man in The Strange Library and there are definitely a ton of sheep here. However, I was quite disappointed by it. I did not really enjoy this detectiveesque tale. Still, it was an interesting book.
5. The Strange Library
I read this one in a Media Fictions course last semester. We learned how writing is a form of media itself and how much the materiality of a book (i.e. the way it is presented to you) affected the way we read it. This version of The Strange Library was genuinely interesting. We have a four fold book and half of the story is told alongside strange images. It also looks like a library book that you’ve taken out, which makes it even more compelling. It was a very interesting experiment, but alas…I did not love the story. Sheep Alert: you will see the Sheep Man here.
6. “TV People”
Ah…the weird surreal story that led me to the Murakami pathway. I taught this story in a Literature course at the university. It’s basically a very short read with a lot of weird things happening at the same time only to come to a very foreign, drawn out conclusion. Still…you crave more after you have finished.
Verdict: While I do love Murakami, I think his best stories are about broken people in this world. I have a hard time understanding the surreal worlds that he submerges the readers in. I believe that he thrives when he writes what he knows and when he doesn’t we still have a fantastic story that is somehow missing something. I would just say keep on reading Murakami because you never know what you might stumble into. Because of that, my love affair with Murakami continues…
I have also just acquired 8 more of his books so I will let you know how I feel about them afterwards.
OH…and he loves cats!