Selena's Reviews > After Dark

After Dark by Haruki Murakami
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Jan 09, 2009

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bookshelves: popular-culture, 2009
Read in January, 2009

After Dark is the first book by Haruki Murakami that I’ve read. I was warned by many that I would not enjoy it. But they’re all delusional and wrong.

After Dark isn’t a traditional novel. It isn’t a plot driven story and in fact, not much actually happens. After Dark takes place in Tokyo over a period of seven hours. It begins with Mari Asai, sitting and reading her book in a Denny’s in the middle of the night. An old acquaintance sees her and reacquaints himself. The boy, Takahashi, eats at Mari’s table and volunteers information about himself. He is going to a late-night practice down the street - he plays the trombone. It is her fateful meeting with Takahashi that sets off a chain of events. Without meeting Takahashi, Mari would have stayed at the Denny’s until morning, reading her book and ordering food or coffee every couple of hours to justify her presence. Instead she has ended up at a love-hotel trying to save a prostitute. But this isn’t the “mystery” part of the story. The actual mystery in the story is right in front of you from the beginning, presented in the most bizarre way.

Reading this book felt like a dream. Murakami often addresses the reader directly, “we.” He narrates part of the story as though the reader and writer are both a camera viewing the scene. It pulls you into the plot - confusing you at first - but like any dream, you just go with it. The place it took me was unexpected.

A flaw that I found with the novel was the conversations between characters. Often the dialogue between Mari and Takahashi lacked a human feel to it. It felt like he attempted to shove too much information into pieces of the dialogue. The ending of the story also left me a little worried. The revenge of the abused prostitute was never realized and thereby left out. Did someone punish the man that did such horrible things to her? Will Mari ever see Takahashi again? Does he even really like her? The note of hope that the book ends on left me only partly convinced.

I’m told that this book is not indicative of Murakami’s style - that this book was “experimental.” I look forward to reading more of him because this book, though it had its flaws, was a worthwhile read. It felt like a hallucination.
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08/19/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Jeane (new) - added it

Jeane Seana, my best friend loves the books and recommended them to me years ago. I hope to read one soon.


Fiona I was warned by many that I would not enjoy it. But they’re all delusional and wrong.

Haha. They aren't books I'd necessarily recommend to everyone or anyone, but definitely good books! I haven't read this one yet, but must put it on my to-read list and remind myself to get it from the library.

I've read Kafka on the Shore which was really good and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle which was good, but a bit protracted in places. I love his writing style, but he's very weird and abstract.


message 3: by j (new) - rated it 3 stars

j i wonder how much your problem with the dialogue can be chalked up to either different writing styles in japanese or the translation. i think a lot of murakami's dialogue is oddly formal sounding or something. i noticed it most in norwegian wood.


Lauren Strickland "Traditional" novels haven't been plot-driven since modernism came to town. Probably before that. :)


Sathya Srinivasan oh please do read "sputnik sweetheart" and "norwegian wood" :)


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