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Review: After the Quake by Haruki Murakami

Posted by Caitie F on October 1, 2009

Title: After the Quake
Author: Haruki Murakami
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Vintage (Random House)
Year Published: 2000
Rating: +++++

From the Publisher: ”

The six stories in Haruki Murakami’s mesmerizing collection are set at the time of the catastrophic 1995 Kobe earthquake, when Japan became brutally aware of the fragility of its daily existence. But the upheavals that afflict Murakami’s characters are even deeper and more mysterious, emanating from a place where the human meets the inhuman.

An electronics salesman who has been abruptly deserted by his wife agrees to deliver an enigmatic package—and is rewarded with a glimpse of his true nature. A man who has been raised to view himself as the son of God pursues a stranger who may or may not be his human father. A mild-mannered collection agent receives a visit from a giant talking frog who enlists his help in saving Tokyo from destruction. As haunting as dreams, as potent as oracles, the stories in After the Quake are further proof that Murakami is one of the most visionary writers at work today.”

If you have not picked up any of Murakami’s work, you should try his books as soon as you can. This was the second book of his that I read, the first being Sputnick Sweetheart and it was fantastic.

This is a collection of short stories that all deal with the earthquake in Kobe indirectly. It shows how a great tragedy can affect an entire country, even if the character knew no one in the effected area. Whether it is a young child who is scared of the Earthquake Man or a teenager questioning morality and purpose, everyone is impacted by the catastrophic event. There are also fantastical events, most noticeably a man who gets visited by a giant frog who needs his help to defeat Worm so that Worm will not cause an earthquake in Tokyo.

What stuck with me the most is how much I cared about the characters even though I was just shown a small part of their lives. I finished the story wanting to know more about what happened to them. Did the young man ever find his father or his purpose? Did she wake up after the bonfire and kill herself or did she realize all the good things in her life? Did they live happily ever after when they finally got together or did life happen and it was more difficult than they thought? By not giving a conclusion, Murakami made me try to decide for myself what I thought what would happen to the people. Since he showed real life in his stories, I saw that they did not all end up happy, that maybe she did kill herself or he never figured out what he was doing. The stories did show some hope though, so maybe they ended up okay. In these quick twenty page stories Murakami manages to show a slice of what life is really like and all of its complexities.

How do you think their stories ended? Go pick it up and let me know.

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One Response to “Review: After the Quake by Haruki Murakami”

  1. Nymeth said

    I haven’t read this one yet, but I love Murakami. He is great with characterization, and he knows how to leave the readers wondering without making the inconclusiveness become unsatisfying.

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