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The Strange Library

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From internationally acclaimed author Haruki Murakami—a fantastical illustrated short novel about a boy imprisoned in a nightmarish library. Opening the flaps on this unique little book, readers will find themselves immersed in the strange world of best-selling Haruki Murakami's wild imagination.

The story of a lonely boy, a mysterious girl, and a tormented sheep man plotting their escape from a nightmarish library, the book is like nothing else Murakami has written. Designed by Chip Kidd and fully illustrated in full color throughout, this small format, 96-page volume is a treat for book lovers of all ages.

90 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2005

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About the author

Haruki Murakami

610 books113k followers
Murakami Haruki (Japanese: 村上 春樹) is a popular contemporary Japanese writer and translator. His work has been described as 'easily accessible, yet profoundly complex'. He can be located on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/harukimuraka...

Since childhood, Murakami has been heavily influenced by Western culture, particularly Western music and literature. He grew up reading a range of works by American writers, such as Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan, and he is often distinguished from other Japanese writers by his Western influences.

Murakami studied drama at Waseda University in Tokyo, where he met his wife, Yoko. His first job was at a record store, which is where one of his main characters, Toru Watanabe in Norwegian Wood, works. Shortly before finishing his studies, Murakami opened the coffeehouse 'Peter Cat' which was a jazz bar in the evening in Kokubunji, Tokyo with his wife.

Many of his novels have themes and titles that invoke classical music, such as the three books making up The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: The Thieving Magpie (after Rossini's opera), Bird as Prophet (after a piano piece by Robert Schumann usually known in English as The Prophet Bird), and The Bird-Catcher (a character in Mozart's opera The Magic Flute). Some of his novels take their titles from songs: Dance, Dance, Dance (after The Dells' song, although it is widely thought it was titled after the Beach Boys tune), Norwegian Wood (after The Beatles' song) and South of the Border, West of the Sun (the first part being the title of a song by Nat King Cole).

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5 stars
9,356 (16%)
4 stars
21,258 (36%)
3 stars
21,091 (36%)
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1,173 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,272 reviews
Profile Image for Cecily.
1,137 reviews4,183 followers
October 16, 2022
A rich and delicious snack that defies categorisation.

It has elements of Kafka, Borges, Roald Dahl, Hillaire Belloc and Tim Burton, Neil Gaiman, with a dash of Orwell (but one digit out). It looks like a beautifully designed and illustrated children's book, though it's rather dark for small children, and YA feels wrong as well.

I think it's a book for adults who like slightly sinister tales and want to recapture a taste of the frisson of fear they relished when young.


The story is a fairly simple fable: a boy goes to the public library because he was idly wondering about the Ottoman tax collection system, and his mother always said, "If you don't know something, go to the library to look it up". He knows the place well, but on this occasion, he's sent to a reading room, via an enormous underground labyrinth, escorted by a sinister old man. It's not just the corridors that take a worrying turn, and he tries to quell his fears by rationalising the improbability of a public body being able to afford so much secret space. Is it magical, a hallucination, real in a parallel world? Will he live or die?


The story is set pre-Google, and it should probably be read as if Kindles and audio books don't exist either.

This is a book you need to hold, touch, and smell. My edition (illustrated at the top of this review) has an old-fashioned library card wallet glued to the outside front cover.

The illustrations are beautiful, very varied, only loosely related to the text, and mostly copied from books in the ancient London Library (http://www.londonlibrary.co.uk/). I recently attended a friend's birthday dinner there; it was a strange juxtaposition of enjoyments.

Knowledge is good - but maybe dangerous, too?

I just hope this book doesn't put anyone off seeking knowledge, either in general, or by visiting their local library. It has that effect on the narrator, but that is partly because the punishment prescribed for him failing to acquire specific knowledge in a limited time was so grim - yet also somewhat clichéd.

Kafka, Borges and other parallels

Minor spoilers - but no more than in the book's own blurb.

The boy meets a/the sheep man, a character in other Murakami books.
There are several references to birds, but I haven't read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, so I don't know how tenuous that is.

Room 107 has similarities with Orwell's Room 101.

For genuinely child-oriented illustrated tales in a similar, but poetic, vein, see:
Belloc's "Cautionary Tales"
For something between those and this, see:
Tim Burton's The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy
Neil Gaiman's Coraline.

I read this before I'd read Jorge Luis Borges, he of the labyrinthine library, so Theseus comes to mind, mainly towards the end, though navigating by licking the wall was novel!
Now that I have read Borges, and selva queried my lack of mention of him, the connection and homage is clear. See my overview review of Borges' stories HERE and of The Library of Babel HERE.

However, Kafka was the strongest parallel for me: surreal, incomprehensible situation, unfair punishment without recourse to defence, and sustenance (food, flirting and, in Kafka, more) from a woman who may or may not be real.
Profile Image for Nayra.Hassan.
1,259 reviews5,634 followers
June 29, 2022
لا.. لاااااا لا✖ كلمة قصيرة لابد ان تهتف بها في وقتها و مكانها
ا"لقد فقدت حذائي..و لن أتمكن من رؤية امي مجددا "و
كم تختلط اولويتنا عند وقوعنا في فخ لا فكاك منه

قصة خيالية..ساخرة..رمزية..مجنونة عن تلك المباني الحبيبة الماضية في طريق الانقراض

هل ترقد كل مخاوفنا تحت احب الأماكن إلى قلوبنا ؟
هل لابد للمعرفة من التجرد..التفرغ..العزلة؟

طفل يتم حبسه في غياهب مكتبة عامة حتى يحفظ 3مجلدات عن الضرائب العثمانية..و بعدها سيتم التهام مخه
اعتبرتها فورا قصة رمزية عن الثانوية العامة المصرية📖
بكل عبثيتها و جبروتها و تشكيلها النهائي للمستقبل..حتى صار الهرب منها واجب على الجميع

بخيال "متشرد" نجح موراكامي في إثارة تساؤلاتنا عن الجدوى الفعلية للمعرفة و الطاعة ..معا

لم اشعر مطلقا ان الكاتب ياباني في لقائي الثاني به ..و لولا الجودريدز و مراجعات الاصدقاء عنه لتأخر تعارفنا طويلا
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews45 followers
August 28, 2021
Fushigi na Toshokan = The Strange Library, Haruki Murakami

Originally published: November 1982. Short novel about a boy imprisoned in a nightmarish library. A lonely boy, a mysterious girl, and a tormented sheep man plot their escape from the nightmarish library of internationally acclaimed, bestselling Haruki Murakami's wild imagination.

A boy visits his local library on the way home from school. When he asks to borrow a book, he is directed to Room 107 in the basement where a stern old man confronts him. Fearful, the boy says he is interested in tax collection in the Ottoman Empire and the man goes to fetch three large volumes.

The old man then leads him into a subterranean maze towards the reading room where he will be permitted to read the books. There the boy meets a sheep man who imprisons him in a cell. He is told that he has one month to memorise all three volumes, after which the old man intends to eat his brains once they have become ‘nice and creamy’ with knowledge.

With the help of sheep man and a mysterious voiceless girl, the boy makes a bid for freedom through the maze, but as they enter the library once more, they are confronted by the old man and a large black dog. The boy and sheep man manage to escape to the local park and as the boy rests sheep man disappears. Back home, he finds his mother waiting for him with a hot breakfast. He decides never to visit the library again.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و یکم ماه سپتامبر سال 2014میلادی

عنوان: کتابخانه عجیب؛ نویسنده هاروکی موراکامی؛ مترجم: بهرنگ رجبی؛ تهران، نشر چشمه، 1393؛ 90ص؛ مصور؛ شابک9786002294609؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان ژاپن - سده 20م

عنوان: کتابخانه عجیب؛ نویسنده هاروکی موراکامی؛ مترجم: مهدی غبرایی؛ تهران، نشر نیکا، 1394؛ 100ص؛ مصور رنگی؛ شابک9786007567111؛

پسرک نوجوان و کتابخوانی، برای گرفتن چند کتاب، درباره ‌ی گرد‌آوری مالیات در امپراتوری «عثمانی»، وارد کتابخانه ای می‌شود؛ مسئول کتابخانه که مردی عجیب و غریب است، او را از مارپیچ‌های پنهان کتابخانه به طبقه پایین، اتاق یکصد و هفت می‌فرستد؛ و او را در آن اتاق زندانی می‌کند، و به او می‌گوید که باید کتاب‌های آنجا را نگهداری کند، تا اجازه دهد او از آنجا برود؛ پسرک متوجه می‌شود که مرد می‌خواهد از این راه مغز او را، که هر بار از اطلاعاتی تازه پر شده، بخورد، چون از نظر او مغز پسرک خیلی خوشمزه است؛ اما پسرک تصمیم می‌گیرد با یاری شخصیت‌های دیگر از زندان فرار کند؛ دختر زندانبان شخصیت تازه ای است، که با ورود خود از میانه ی داستان، روند تازه‌ ای به قصه می‌دهد؛ «موراکامی» در «کتابخانه عجیب»، داستانی فانتزی و خیالی آفریده، که گوناگونی شخصیت‌ها، در آن بسیار هوشمندانه هستند؛ به ویژه اینکه روایت از زبان اول شخص، یعنی پسرک است که موجب همذات پنداری و نزدیکی خوانشگر به شخصیت پسرک می‌شود، به طوری که خوانشگر از لا به لای خط‌ها و تصاویر کتاب، خود را میان فضای مرموز و عجیب می‌بیند؛ عشق نیز عنصری طلایی است، که در بیشتر داستان‌های «موراکامی» وجود دارد، او در این داستان نیز، علاوه بر اینکه حس تعلیق را با ارائه ی جزئیاتی محدود، درباره ی صحنه، ارائه می‌دهد، عشقی ظریف را که بین پسرک و دختر زندانبان وجود دارد را به شکل دیگ��ی ترسیم می‌کند؛ مخاطب این کتاب نوجوانان و جوانان هستند، اما در سفری که پسرک کتابخوان در این کتابخانه عجیب دارد نشانه‌های سمبلیک و نمادینی نیز وجود دارند که نشان می‌دهند این سفر به نوعی سفری معنوی و روحانی است، که برای خوانشگر بزرگسال نیز دلگشاست

نقل از متن: (کتابخانه حتا ساکت‌تر از معمولش بود؛ کفش‌های چرمیِ تازه‌ ام روی کفِ خاکستری ‌رنگ آنجا تق تق می‌کردند؛ صدای تیز و زمختشان شبیهِ صدای معمولِ قدم‌هایم نبود؛ هر بار کفشِ تازه‌ ای می‌خرم، مدتی طول می‌کشد تا به سر و صدایش عادت کنم؛ زنی که تا قبل از آن هیچ‌وقت ندیده بودمش، نشسته بود پشتِ میزِ مراجعان، و داشت کتابِ کُلُفتی می‌خواند؛ عرضِ کتاب جورِ غیرعادی زیاد بود؛ دختره جوری بود انگار دارد صفحه ‌ی سمت راستی را با چشمِ راست و صفحه‌ ی سمت چپی را با چشم‌ چپش می‌خواند؛ گفتم «ببخشید»!؛ کتاب را محکم کوبید روی میزش و زُل زد به من؛ گفتم «اومده ام این‌ها رو پس بدم»؛ و کتاب‌هایی را که دستم بود، روی پیشخان گذاشتم؛ اسمِ یکی‌شان بود «چگونه یک زیردریایی بسازیم» و اسمِ آن یکی «خاطراتِ یک چوپان»؛ کتابداره داخل جلد را نگاه کرد، تا ببیند موعدِ برگرداندنِ کتاب‌ها کِی بوده؛ از وقتشان نگذشته بود؛ من همیشه کار را سرِوقتش می‌کنم و هیچ‌وقت چیزی را دیر تحویل نمی‌دهم؛ مادرم اینجوری بارم آورده؛ چوپان‌ها هم همین‌طورند؛ اگر سفت وسخت به برنامه‌ شان پابند نباشند، گوسفند کامل قاتى می‌کند و به سرش می‌زند؛ کتابداره خیلی نمایشی، روی برگه هه مُهرِ «برگردانده شد» زد، و برگشت سرِ کتاب خواندنش.؛ گفتم «دنبالِ چندتا کتاب هم هستم»؛ بدونِ این‌که سربالا بیاورد و نگاه کند، جواب داد «پایینِ پله‌ ها بپیچ راست؛ راهرو رو صاف برو تا برسی به اتاقِ 107»؛ ردیفِ درازی از پله‌ها را پایین رفتم، پیچیدم راست، راهروِ کم نوری را رفتم تا همان‌طور که قرار بود، به اتاقی رسیدم که شماره‌ ی 107، داشت؛ کتابخانه هه را خیلی رفته بودم اما این که زیرزمینی دارد برایم تازه بود.)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 08/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 05/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,157 followers
February 16, 2020
Hmmmmmmm..........My first Haruki Murakami story turned out to be a really dark and weird reading experience, but the more I think about it, perhaps I do get it.

I think a grown man (see shoe illustration) is reliving a sad childhood memory.

I think the setting in the bowels of THE STRANGE LIBRARY represents loneliness.

I think the nasty ogre with scary eyes means to show us fear.

I think the starling represents worry and loss.

I think the sheep brings memories of kindness that absorb pain, and

I think the beautiful voiceless girl represents love, strength and all that has been lost.

"And ever since I was little my mother had told me, if you don't know something, go to the library and look it up."

I'll be damn, I think I have to give this 4 Stars.

Profile Image for هدى يحيى.
Author 9 books16.3k followers
June 24, 2019

لكل عشاق الكتب
هذه قصة ستمنحكم الكوابيس

هذه هي اللعبة..
مكتبة أم متاهة أم سجن..؟

أنت كعاشق كتب ‏
تتوقع قصة تكمن غرابتها في بديع الأشياء التي ‏
ولابد سيصادفها بطل القصة

تتوقع جنيات خرافية تملأ الأركان وحراسا لمكتبة الكون ‏يؤدون التحية للقراء

مهلا ... مهلا
موراكامي يكتب الواقعية السحرية بأسلوب مختلف تماما

وهذه القصة مثال جديد لعين على ذلك


‏ ولد صغير كتب عليه أن يُعذب بالقراءة
أن يكون سجنه مكتبة

لا تقل لي وما أشهاه من سجن..‏
فإن كان عليك القراءة غصبا وقهرا ‏
بالتحديد طرق تحصيل الضرائب ‏
في الإمبراطورية العثمانية
في قبضة أمين مكتبة عجوز مرعب شرس

فبالتأكيد لن تستمتع بوقتك

نعود للفتى المسكين
الذي لا يفتأ يتخيل أمه وعصفوره ‏
ويقابل الفتاة البكماء والرجل الخروف
آه نعم خروف مرة أخرى
يبدو أن لكل كاتب شخص من اختراعه يأبى إلا أن يفرض ‏نفسه عليه ومن ثم علينا
غاردر بالجوكر وموراكامي بالرجل الخروف
وإني لأتساءل إن كان هذا هو ما كانت تخيفه به أمه مثلا في ‏طفولته.. ‏‎
صدقا الأمر مريب

وإنك لتتساءل عما وراء هذه القصة بشخصياتها الضبابية ‏الغريبة
وهل هي خيالات ولد حزين أم فانتازيا سوداء صنعها عقل ‏جهنمي كلنا يعرف أن موراكامي يمتلكه

إنها قصة قد تصيب القراء بالرعب
فلامعقولية الأحداث
وغرابة نهايتها البائسة
وتحويله كل ما هو جميل في الكتب ‏
إلى قيد قد يخنق صاحبه بأفكاره

بتحويله فعل القراءة
فعل أمر

لك الحق في أن تكرهها أيها القارئ
لك كامل الحق في أن تلعن كاتبها
ولكنك لن تتوقف عن حبه
أو عن الانبهار بهذه العقلية الأدبية الغير مسبوقة
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
969 reviews6,871 followers
September 7, 2022
Why did something like this have to happen to me? All I did was go to the library to borrow some books.

Haruki Murakami has a fascinating ability to break open the natural world and let loose all the magic that we hope and suspect is lurking right under the surface. The Strange Library is a cause for celebration in the Murakami ouveur, even just for the simple fact that its existence signals that the well-respected novelist has achieved a superstar status in the world of reading; even more worth celebrating as this status is not commonly held these days by an author with such literary chops and depth of heart. It is also satisfying to see the novel used as an art-form beyond the printed word as Chip Kidd has done here (this is nothing new or groundbreaking, such as B.S. Johnson's book-in-a-box The Unfortunates, but still refreshing). In an age of digital books it is relieving to see publishers producing a reason to go out and buy the physical copy, offering so much more than just the story for those who still enjoy the tangible paper. Though the book is merely a single short story¹—a story that works like a microcosm of all that is Murakami even if a bit watered-down—with a cover price just above a standard novel, it is a gorgeous work of art to support the content and proves that Murakami is enough of a household name to be able to release such an exciting collectors piece.

Flourishing under the art direction of Chip Kidd, the physical book itself is as whimsical as the story within and is truly something to take down from your shelf so you and your friends can marvel at it. The back cover folds over the top and bottom of the book, creating a slip-case like box out of the book itself, and each page corresponds to a full-color image that reflects the current actions of the story. These illustrations create a multi-media experience that drives the book along and returns the reader to their childhood of being just as drawn in by the pictures as the story. Plus the text is set in ‘Typewriter’, which is sure to tickle any fan. While the illustrations are fun, some are used multiple times and some of it left me desiring a little more. The effort is there, the result is beautiful, but somehow it seems like it could have been easily taken to higher heights.

Like a blind dolphin, the night of the new moon silently drew near

The story itself is simple: a young boy gets locked in a library’s reading room by an evil librarian who will eat his brains if the boy cannot memorize three thick books on Ottoman tax collection. It is the type of plot you would find in a children’s book, and what I enjoyed most was the way the story seems to play on the irrational fears you have as an over-imaginative child, always wondering how even the most mundane events could suddenly break into a life-or-death fantasy full of heros and villans. This is what Murakami does best in his works, particularly Wind-Up Bird Chronicles. He allows the reader to have all the fun of a children’s book without sacrificing the literary merit or writing caliber. All the Murakami trademarks are within, from oversensitive and passive protagonists and the alluring and mysterious women who aid them, to labyrinths and parallel worlds. There is even an appearance by the Sheep Man from his early book A Wild Sheep Chase. Particularly intriguing is the girl he meets in the prison who ‘talks with her hands’, Murakami making something more magical than just meaning sign-language as the hands are described as bearing a distinct, audible voice and her dialogue is denoted by blue ink.
The sheep man has his world. I have mind. And you have yours,too...just because I don’t exist in the sheep man’s world, it doesn’t mean that I don’t exist at all.
With as simple of a discussion as that, Murakami lightly paints in parallel worlds and fantasy, keeping them vague enough to provoke the imagination and making them feel plausible in the world we live in.

Often, especially towards the beginning, the language feels a bit juvenile and flimsy, though it is key to remember that the narrator is a young teen. Murakami has done well to keep an authentic atmosphere with this style instead of being unable or unwilling to separate himself and his voice from his characters. The character of the narrator reflects many of Murakami's common motifs, especially the boy's passive nature. As the Sheep Man and the boy are both those who do what they are told, especially if doing so will earn them praise despite not actually agreeing with their actions, they have been led into the servitude and imprisonment of the evil librarian. However, they realize they deserve more than to be pushed around and the boy, Sheep Man and the mysterious girl unite with one another to escape and overthrow their oppressors. This all makes for a wonderful statement about not sitting silent under the authority of tyranny, finding your voice and forging your own way in the world even if it means overthrowing those above you. The epilogue-of-sorts that appears in small print on the final page is a devastating little paragraph that sinks the reader in melancholy yet reminds them of Murakami’s ultimate message: that it is through meaningful human interaction, friendship, love and bravery that we conquer the darkness of the world. We all must care for one another, like the narrator cares for his parakeet and his mother cares for him.

While the content of the book is a bit slim and reads more like a children’s novel, all the hallmarks of classic Murakami are within. This is not a book for everyone, mostly those already fascinated by the worlds of it’s author and I would not recommend it as a starting point for those wishing to take their first dip into Murakami's words. However, it is a book to hold and marvel, and if you allow yourself to, it sure is a hell of a lot of fun. This was the perfect companion for a day stuck in bed with a savage bout of flu, and for those needing a brief little smile of a book to brighten the day and return them to the emotions and actions that first connected them with loving books as a child, then this is a perfect choice.

¹ Apparently The Strange Library is occasionally categorized as Children's Literature (that you to Praj for the insight!). While reading the book, I was under the impression Library published solo with Kidd's artistry as an excuse to put it out without need of a full-fledged short story collection. While the story would have felt at home between the covers of The Elephant Vanishes, it also works quite well as a children's novel. This would account for the slender standard Murakami themes, and also why this book is general devoid of the sex scenes and sexuality that is usually present within his work, as well as the more novel-like plot complete with problem and climax as opposed to a slice-of-life short story structure.
Profile Image for Kenny.
507 reviews937 followers
August 1, 2023
“Mr. Sheep Man,” I asked, “why would that old man want to eat my brains?”
“Because brains packed with knowledge are yummy, that’s why. They’re nice and creamy. And sort of grainy at the same time.”

The Strange Library ~~ Haruki Murakami


I have a confession to make ... The Strange Library is the first work of Haruki Murakami I've ever read. There, I’ve said it. One of my best friends, Srđan, kept pushing me to read something of Murakami's. To Srđan, Murakami is a mythic figure ~~ I'm certain he makes the sign of the cross every time the mere thought of Murakami enters his mind. Most of my friends love him as well. My mother has read nearly everything he has published. I'm awfully embarrassed to be so late jumping on the Murakami band wagon, but I'm glad I made the leap.

I very much enjoyed THE STRANGE LIBRARY. All the boy wanted was to borrow a book from the strange library. Once inside, he entered the realm of a Sheepman who loves to make donuts, magical starlings , a crazy man who loves to eat creamy brains, and a mystical, wisp of a girl. I've never read anything quite like this before, and I found it to be quite funny and endearing. Reality soon set in as tragedy struck the boy.

I don't know if what I read was real, a dream, or a nightmare. What I do know, is that I am excited to visit Murakami's world again. In fact, I think I will be visiting quite often over the next several years. Thank you, Srdjan!

Profile Image for BookHunter محمد.
1,433 reviews3,353 followers
April 15, 2023

الكتب دى هتاكل لك دماغك
الواد فلان الكتب بوظت دماغه
شوفتى البنت دى قلعت الحجاب و فسخت خطوبتها بعد ما قرأت كام كتاب بوظولها مخها

دائما أمى تقلق على و أنا أقرأ و تناشدنى أن أرحم عينى و كأنى أعذبهما لا أمتعهما بينما لا تقلق على بتاتا و أنا ألعب أو و أنا نائم
ثم و فى المساء التالى أيضا ... الفتاة الغامضة ظهرت مجددا. هذه المرة جلبت لى سجقا مطهيا على الطريقة الفرنسية و سلطة بطاطا و سمكا محشوا سلطة براعم الفجل. هلالية كبيرة و شايا أسود محلى بالعسل. مجرد رؤية كل هذا جعلنى جائعا.
مجرد ذكر الطعام و أصنافه تصرخ المعدة جائعة و يجرى الريق عذبا زلالا و بمجرد ذكر الكتب أشتاق لجهازى اللوحى و قراءة كتاب ثم اتذكر فجأة أن ما أفعله هو أننى فعلا أقرأ كتاب و ها هو جهازى اللوحى أمامى يحدق فى بدهشة كما أحدق فيه أنا أيضا

نحن أيضا منذ عضنا الكلب الأسود و عقولنا ليست على ما يرام و لن نهدأ حتى نقابل الرجل العجوز فى مكتبتنا الغريبة و نقرأ ما نريد حتى نحفظه عن ظهر قلب

مثلما المتاهة تأخذنا قائمة الكتب فى تعرجات قد تطول أو تقصر بلا خطة محددة و تجد القائمة تتمدد و تنكمش كثيرا دون أى بادرة أمل فى النهاية كما لو كنت قد علقت فى المتاهة و لن تخرج أبدا و الغريب أنك لا تسأم و لا تتمرد و لكنك مستغرق تماما فيما تفعل رغم غضب و دهشة من حولك
- اهرب .. هذه هى فرصتك
- و لكن ماذا عنك؟
- لا تقلق على ... سألحق بك فيما بعد .. أسرع .. لو لم تسرع .. ستضيع للأبد
Profile Image for Rinda Elwakil .
501 reviews4,562 followers
March 3, 2017
في عدد من الصفحات لا يتخطّي الثلاثين، يلخص موراكامي اسوأ كوابيس القراء و يضعها حيز التنفيذ

ماذا إن كان عشقك قاتِلك؟

ماذا إن فُرضت عليك القراءة فرضًا و صار إتقانك لما تقرأه سبيلًا لنجاتك؟
ماذا إن وجدت نفسك -بعد زيارة اعتيادية للمكتبة- مُحتجزًا تحت إمرة عجوز رهيب مختل يطلب منك أن تجيد قراءة ما بيدك و إلا ؟

القصة رمزية لا شك، مقبضةبعض الشئ

اثارت الخوف بأوصالي.

فقط ابعدوا تلك القصة عن الأطفال و من لا زالوا يتحسسون طرقهم في عالم القراءة، تحرّي أن يعرف أحد بمكانك عند ذهابك لمكتبة عامة، و إن وجدت عجوزًا عابسًا يطلب منك أن تصحبه إلي قاعة القراءة،
ف اطلق ساقيك للريح، اهرب ! :)

تستحق القراء��.

Profile Image for Steven Medina.
204 reviews938 followers
February 15, 2022
Mi primer acercamiento a Murakami no ha sido positivo, espero tener más suerte en próximas ocasiones.

Mi principal razón para leer esta obra fue por la portada, ya que se ve muy bonita, y porque quería procurar acercarme un poco a la pluma del reconocido Haruki Murakami. Sé que el autor tiene novelas muy reconocidas y valoradas, y sé que debí intentar leer alguna de esas obras para crear en mi mente un perfil más sólido de lo que es Murakami, pero fue un periodo en el que estaba buscando una lectura ligera porque andaba leyendo obras muy extensas, así que creí que este libro era una buena opción para lo que estaba buscando. Y bueno, de hecho lo fue. En La biblioteca secreta nos encontramos un texto muy fácil de leer, con capítulos efímeros, y que podemos terminar en menos de veinte minutos. Además, las ilustraciones del libro son geniales, por lo que cada una de ellas es un perfecto complemento que sirve para acompañarnos en nuestro pequeño viaje. Entonces, ¿cuál es el problema y por qué la razón de mi calificación? Pues bien, este es el motivo.

Leer esta obra fue como una historia inconclusa que nos narran de repente. En numeradas ocasiones —cuando iniciamos una historia—, al principio no nos parece tan interesante la idea presentada, pero, a medida que avanzas, y vas sumergiéndote en el argumento, empiezas a anhelar seguir leyendo para esperar ese «algo más» que te haga sentir que ha valido la pena aguardar hasta el final. Sin embargo, si no te terminan de contar la historia o termina abruptamente, entonces resultas con irritación e insatisfacción. Quedas en tu cerebro con un amargo «¿eso era todo?». Pues bien, eso es lo que me ha sucedido en esta ocasión. La biblioteca secreta me pareció una historia con un inicio normal, un nudo que pensé era parte también del comienzo, pero con un desenlace que no esperaba tan pronto. Creí que el argumento tendría más desarrollo, o qué por lo menos ocurrirían más acontecimientos o aventuras, pero desafortunadamente todo terminó con un inexplicable «Fin» que me dejó muy descontento y amargado.

A pesar de todo, debo destacar que el mensaje principal del cuento es importante. Es un mensaje pesimista, aunque real en muchos casos, que nos hace reflexionar sobre la soledad e infelicidad de los niños que se sienten sin nadie con quien contar. El niño protagonista lee muchísimo, y aunque le gusta, es la clara muestra de que hay ocasiones donde sentimos tanto dolor en nuestro interior, que para protegernos, solemos buscar la manera de refugiarnos en alguna actividad que aleje temporalmente las preocupaciones de nuestra mente. En el caso del niño protagonista es la lectura, pero cuando nosotros nos sentimos mal, ¿en qué nos refugiamos? ¿En qué se refugiarán los niños que viven infelices y solos por el mundo? Naturalmente no nos deberíamos refugiar en ninguna parte sino resolver nuestros problemas, pero de ocurrir, en tal caso, la lectura siempre será una buena compañía en los momentos más difíciles. Siempre será preferible resguardarnos en la lectura, y no en actividades perversas como la violencia, las adicciones, etc.

No hay mucho más que decir en esta ocasión. Pienso que lo importante de este libro no es el argumento en sí, sino el trasfondo del argumento, es decir, lo mencionado en el párrafo anterior. Para evitar crear una mala imagen de Murakami en mi mente, simularé que aún no he leído nada de él, por lo que en mi próxima lectura buscaré conocer un poco mejor el verdadero trabajo del autor japonés. El libro no me ha gustado, pero tampoco merece menos de dos estrellas de calificación, así que justamente esa es la puntuación que decido darle a esta obra: Dos estrellas. Próximo destino: No lo sé, habrá que analizar con calma mi próxima lectura de Murakami. Recibo recomendaciones.
Profile Image for فايز غازي Fayez Ghazi .
Author 2 books3,922 followers
June 3, 2023
- المكتبة الغريبة، قصة قصيرة جداً تتأرجح بين الواقع والخيال فحين تبدأ الأحداث على مسطّح ملموس يقوم موراكامي برشّ بعض السحر في الأرجاء ويُداخل العوالم ببعضها ويأتي بفتاة مسحورة من هنا وانسان خروف من هناك ويجمعهم في عالم واحد ثم يفرقهم ثم يعود الى الواقع المعقول فيخفيهم فلا تعرف اذا كانوا حلماً او واقعاً او خيال طفل او ردّة فعل نتيجة حادثة ما!

- القصة بظاهرها عن ولد خلوق يحب المطالعة، يتعرض لأحداث غريبة في مكتبة عامة، لكن ببطانها فهي تحمل الآف الإحتمالات والتفسيرات، بالإضافة الى الإحالات التي تحملها لقصص اخرى (الغرفة 107 مثلاً الشبيهة بالغرفة 101 لجورج اوريول)، لكنني سأكتفي بتفسيرين قد ترأى لي:

* الصبي عضّه كلب (حقيقة)، فقامت امه بالدفاع عنه مما عرّضها للعض ايضاً (تغيّر لون سحنتها، ثم موتها لاحقاً)، الصبي المريض دخل في عالم الأحلام والأوهام وبدأ لاوعيه بنسج عالم يرتكز على حياته الواقعية (المكتبة، التعلّق، وقد يكون المرضي، بوالدته) يستعيد حبه للكتب فيخلق المكتبة او يجري الأحداث فيها، مرضه يوهمه بعجوز (الشيخ هي الكلمة الصحيحة لغوياً، او الهرم)، عجزه يأخذه الى سجن، األامه تخلق المتاهة. طبيعة الولد ان يتحرر ليلعب، فيهرب. الفتاة الجميلة قد تكون صورة امه في لاوعيه خصوصاً مع التضحية التي قامت بها بتقمصها جسد العصفور في فم الكلب. يشفى الولد ويعود لحياته. تموت أمه وتستمر الحياة! بذلك تكون القصة عن كآبة طفل تعرّض لحادث ادى لمرضه واوهامه.


* الصبي وحيد بفعل موت امه. نهاية القصة هي بدايتها الفعلية. الوحدة والشوق وتذكّر وصايا الوالدة (اذا اردت ان تعرف شيئاً ما اذهب الى المكتبة) يدفعانه الى المكتبة، مع ازدياد وحدته وشوقه لأمه يستحضرها على شكل الفتاة الجميلة التي تهتم به. المتاهة والنزول الى اسفل المكتبة كناية عن الغوص في التوحّد والضياع الناتج عنه، الرجل الخروف قد يكون صديق وعجوز المكتبة قد يكون جدّه الذي يربيه!

- الجميل في هذه القصة هو النهاية المفتوحة على عدة احتمالات، لكن الغرق في الرمزية على قدر ما يبدو جميلاً فهو بشع ايضاً، لذلك لا ازال افضل قصص ماركيز وبورخس القصيرة على قصص موراكامي.

- سأقرأها لأبنتي الصغيرة في ايلول المقبل وسأرى ما الذي ستفهمه منها، متأكد انها لن تخاف!
Profile Image for John Mauro.
Author 5 books520 followers
May 26, 2023
"The Strange Library" is a fairy tale-like novella about a boy who gets lured into a labyrinth in the basement of his public library.

An old man locks him in a cell deep below the library and forces him to memorize three thick volumes about Ottoman tax collection. The old man threatens to eat the boy's brains, and brains are far tastier if they are full of knowledge.

While imprisoned, the boy meets a beautiful girl who brings him food and gives him advice. She speaks only with her hands; in a nice touch, her hand-speech is colored as blue text. The boy has one other helper who will be familiar to Murakami fans: the sheepman.

Like the best fairy tales, this story is magical, innocent, and sad. The most unique feature is the format of the book, which is full of beautiful artwork that aids in the storytelling.

This brief but beautiful novella will leave you forlorn but entranced. It's well worth the read.
Profile Image for Mutasim Billah .
112 reviews200 followers
August 12, 2018
“Ever since I was little my mother had told me, if you don’t know something, go to the library and look it up.”

The Strange Library is a children's illustrated novel written by Haruki Murakami. The story centers around a boy who finds himself imprisoned in a labyrinth-like library. The book centers around strange, dark themes and words for a children's book. Some regular Murakami-esque features are present here in their full glory.

The moral

It is hard to tell what the moral of this strange tale is. It could be that: "Curiousity and the thirst for knowledge can land you in some difficult places". However, I had a feeling the book made a strong point of not giving in to submission when confronted with strangers.

“Why do I act like this, agreeing when I really disagree, letting people force me to do things I don't want to do?”

"I’m not very good at giving anyone a clear no."

Easter Eggs

The book has a few themes that can be attributed to some of Murakami's inspirations.

“The tricky thing about mazes is that you don't know if you've chosen the right path until the very end. If it turns out you were wrong, it's usually too late to go back and start again. That's the problem with mazes.”

The library's labyrinthine structure is a nod to Jorge Luis Borges' The Library of Babel. Labyrinths were a common theme of Borges' work. The manner in which the protagonist is imprisoned is reminiscent of Franz Kafka's The Trial. As it happens, Kafka is a regular feature in Murakami's work and hard-coded influence in his writing.

The Sheep Man is another Murakami character who has made multiple appearances. First introduced in A Wild Sheep Chase, this distinctive half-man, half-sheep character is an enigma among Murakami fans. Even though his motives are unknown, he is often known to aid the protagonists on their journey and give valuable advice.

The book has another subtle reference:

"I lie here by myself in the dark at two o’clock in the morning and think about that cell in the library basement. About how it feels to be alone, and the depth of the darkness surrounding me. Darkness as pitch black as the night of the new moon."

How does Dale Cooper like his coffee in Twin Peaks? Black as midnight on a moonless night.

Twin Peaks has been a heavy influence on Haruki Murakami's work from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle onwards.

"We are crazy about Twin Peaks in Japan. Do you remember the room with red curtains and the dancing dwarf? That’s the room I mean when I think about subconsciousness. There is something strange and special in yourself. David Lynch knows that too and so we can both create those images, the same images."

- Haruki Murakami, 1994 ( here is a link to the interview)

Profile Image for Mohamed El-shandidy.
122 reviews382 followers
April 12, 2023
المكتبة الغريبة
الأغرب من المكتبة أن هذا الكتاب من المفترض أن يكون للأطفال 😂
فتي بلا اسم ظهر في مكتبة مدينته الصغيرة ليعيد بعض الكتب التي استعارها ، ليسأل أمينة المكتبة أنه يريد أن يطالع بعض الكتب عن جمع الضرائب في الدولة العثمانية !
أجل كما قرأت 😂
جمع الضرائب في الدولة العثمانية موضوع اعتقد أنه لم يخطر على با�� أحد منا و لكنه خطر علي بال صديقنا و لديه رغبة ليعرف ، فأمُّه قالت له إذا أردت معرفة شيئ عليك بالمكتبة في الحال.

هنا تدله الأمينة علي غرفة تحت الأرض ليجد هناك رجلا عجوزا مرعبا يأتي له بثلاثة مجلدات ضخمة عن ضرائب الدولة العثمانية.
و لكن شرط قراءة هذه الكتب أن يقرءها الفتي في غرفة خاصة ، ليوافق الفتي و يسير وراء هذا العجوز في متاهة و الذي لا يضمر خيراً أبداً ، ليرسلنا موراكامي في عالم مرعب غريب فريد يختلط فيه الحقيقة بالحلم .
ماذا يريد العجوز منه؟
ماذا سيفعل الفتي لينقذ نفسه من هذا الموقف؟
هل عليه أن يصرخ و يهرب أو فقط يتبع الرجل فهو لا يريد أن يكون ��يئا برفضه لعرضه؟
القصة مليئة برمزية عن شغف القراءة عما يمكن أن يحدث بعد الانغماس في هذا العالم و لنترك للأطفال متعة القصة الظاهرية و انتبه فلكل شخص يظهر هنا مغزى و معني .
الترجمة في غاية الروعة ✨
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,476 reviews2,412 followers
January 31, 2023
What a story! It hit me so hard in the end.
I can understand what the author is trying to convey through this short fantasy/magical realism book.
I can feel the fear, the uncertainty, the relationship with the strangeness of reality, the unexpected inevitable turn of events and some memories that would never leave.
It's so beautiful. I kept wanting for more but the book ended so fast 🙄
Profile Image for Chihoe Ho.
367 reviews87 followers
November 19, 2014
"The Strange Library" is the collector's keepsake to add to the library of every Haruki Murakami fan, and a delightful gift to a reader who can appreciate a well-told imaginative short story in a creatively packaged edition.

When translation of "The Strange Library" was announced with a release of just mere months after his most recent novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, it was like Christmas came early for me. As with most Chip Kidd-designed Murakami covers, "The Strange Library" had a unique look and feel to it, and it won me over as I delved deeper into the story - a fairy tale, urban legend of sorts, one that mothers would tell their children to scare them good into behaving. It's quite unlike Murakami, yet, so very Murakami at the same time. A solitary boy, a mystifying girl, a sheep man and a bird, all entwined in a fantastical, simplistic plot - all nods to past Murakami works. The accompanying illustrations are visually impactful, and add much value to the reading experience.

Give this man his Nobel already. Haruki Murakami's contribution to both Japanese and contemporary literature is far and beyond.
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
March 17, 2022
There is something special about libraries. They are full of possibilities, knowledge and adventure. For Murakami, they could also be full of danger, weirdness and the unexplainable.

Murakami turns the expected on its head. In The Strange Library he channels the spirit of Kafka, creating a nightmarish situation of entrapment, despair and freakishness. A boy goes to the library. He wishes to learn more about the Ottaman Empire but instead finds himself trapped by an unusual old man. He forces the boy to read three books and will only allow him to leave if he can recite them word for word. No easy task.

Although it’s marketed as a children’s story, and there are strong elements of the bizarre and absurd running through it, I consider this more horror than anything else. And I think Murakami does this very well. The horror lies in the unexplainable nature of it, of its seemingly randomness and unjustness. Like Kafka, the bizarre lies under a thin layer of normality and mundanity: it’s right there under the surface of our own reality.

'Why did something like this have to happen to me? All I did was go to the library to borrow some books.’

However, it’s not that simple. There are also hallucinogenic suggestions and questions over narrator reliability. Is it magic or is it a dream? Either way, I don’t consider this story suitable for children. It’s about a child but it is undeniably dark and adult in its theme and complex in its construction and delivery. There's much more here than the surface suggests.

In terms of the afterlife of the story, of its ability to linger over your mind and stay with you, this is quite potent. I read this last night and it has played on my mind ever since because it leaves you with questions. Again, like the writing of Kafka, nothing is particularly clear. It challenges you to imagine and fill in the gaps: it makes you wonder what the situation actually is beyond the surface of the writing.

Despite its shortness, this is a very clever and engaging story. It demonstrates how great a writer Murakami can be.


You can connect with me on social media via My Linktree.
Profile Image for B Schrodinger.
305 reviews673 followers
January 6, 2015
This time (unlike the last) the call came in the morning while I was eating a banana. Christmas breaks were over, my partner was back at work and I still had a month before I had to teach again.

"Happy New Year Brendon", came the distinctive voice.

"And to you Moriko", I replied.

"Oh Brendon, you remembered. I am Moriko. It means 'child of the forest'."

"Moriko I haven't even taken 'The Strange Library' out of it's plastic cover yet. Your research skills are still good, but your timing seems to be slightly off" I mocked in a friendly manner.

"Brendon, I am quite aware of that fact. You have yet to finish Century Rain. But you are close to finishing and I wanted to make you a proposal. I would like you to come to our laboratory and read Murakami's new novel in our new instrument. Doctors Sato and Kato have been working very hard on getting it ready. And we would compensate you for your time of course."

I hesitated a little. After all what instrument would a marketing research company be making?

Sensing my pause Moriko added: "It's for Science".

Damn, she knows how to play me. And besides my mother raised me to be agreeable.

Moriko gave me the address in the city and asked me to be there at 9:00 am the next day.

I was up early the next day to ride the train into the city. It was unusually quite on the train, only a few people either napping or with their headphones in. I guess there is a lot of people taking extended holidays. When the train arrived I navigated myself towards the address that Moriko gave me to find that it was just around the corner from Kinokuniya. It was a large unassuming modern building, a foyer full of marble. I navigated my way to the elevators, my shoes making a noticeable clomp. I pushed the button for the 14th floor and waited patiently.

The doors opened directly into a reception area. It was beige and there was no signage. I was paranoid that I had the wrong place. But then the woman at the reception looked up and I knew that I was in the correct place.

"Brendon. It is a pleasure to finally meet you."

Moriko wore a small orange hat and had a distinctive port-wine stain on the left side of her face. Despite this, and yet possibly because of this, she was achingly beautiful.

"Well, no time for delays. The Doctors are waiting". And she guided me down a set of corridors with carpeted walls in an avocado shade. At the end of one corridor were a pair of doors like those in a hospital. She pushed them open and guided me through.

The room was large and the left side was dominated by a large array of electronics. But not modern electronics. It looked like someone had looted a physics laboratory from the early Fifties. It was a mess with red and black wires while oscilloscopes dotted the array. In front of this stood two Japanese men in laboratory coats. The men looked so similar that they could have been brothers, just a shade off looking like identical twins.

"This is Doctor Sato. And this is Doctor Kato."

The man on the left bowed first and then the one on the right bowed a little deeper. This earned a reproachful look from the other.

"Unfortunately they do not speak English, so I will act as an interpreter through the procedure" said Moriko with a smile. "If you would follow me please."

Moriko guided me away from the electronics to the other side of the laboratory. There was what seemed to be a raised circular platform on this side, but as we got closer I could see that it was hollow. And as we got even closer it was evident that the hole was deeper than floor level.

Moriko picked up something from the floor. It appeared to be a swimming cap with the same red and black wire mess as the electronics on the other side of the room. "Put this on and climb down the rope ladder into the instrument. You will find there is a copy of 'The Strange Library' at the bottom."

As I descended the ladder I noticed that the beige walls of the hole slowly resolved themselves into an array of some kind as the light level dwindled. I also noticed that the temperature of the air was dropping as well as that of the walls. In fact as I climbed further the walls appeared to be made of stone. When I reached the bottom I was in near darkness.

"How am I meant to read down here?" I yelled upwards.

Moriko's head popped into the small circle of white light. "Dr Sato tells me that there is a small book light beside the book".

I was getting a little tired of this charade. I reached around but found nothing other than the masonry walls. But as I turned around I kicked something. I knelt down and felt the familiar feeling of a hardcover book. And beside it was what I presumed to be the light. I found a switch and turned it on.
It was then that I noticed the rope ladder ascending.

"Hey! Don't trap me down here!" I yelled.

Moriko's head came into view. "Dr Kato tells me that the rope interferes with your aura readings."

"Aura readings?!" I exclaimed.

Moriko's head disappeared for a few seconds.

"Oh no. Sorry my translation was not good. Alpha wave readings."

I may have mumbled something under my breath at this point. And it may have been amplified by the 'instrument' enough for Moriko to hear.

"Please just relax and get comfortable and read the book Brendon. Doctors Sato and Kato are ready."

So there I was, down the bottom of a 10 metre well in an office block with a swimming cap on my head reading Murakami's new book. Despite my surroundings, even the dirt floor of the well, after a few minutes I found that I was very comfortable and I soon lost myself in the story. It was only a short story and it was interspersed with illustrations throughout. I had finished it in a short time, possibly half an hour or so. It was hard to tell in my sensory depriving environment. Moriko came to the top of the well soon after I had finished.

"Doctor Kato has printed out your scans and asked me to go through your thoughts on the book with you. Firstly I want to ask whether you enjoyed the premise."

"That a library has a hidden darker side? Yes, I did enjoy that. I remember the library that I visited as a child had a door which I can only surmise as an adult led to a staff room. But as a child I was fascinated by what was behind that door. It was an open plan library, so a door to a separate section intrigued me greatly. Maybe there was a room with an old man who finds books behind there."

"Indeed there may have been." chuckled Moriko. "Our readings show that this library was torn down about ten years ago."

"Yes, that is correct. A new one was built, but it was not the same. It had lost it's magic. I only visited it a handful of times. By then I was earning my own money and buying books instead."

"And our reading show that you met a familiar person while reading this."

"Yes," I replied. "The Sheep Man featured in it. I am sure he was in another of Murakami's that I have read. Was it 'Dance, Dance, Dance'?"

"I am not the person to ask. I have not read any of Murakami's books myself. I have to maintain a professional distance."


"And tell me Brendon. What did you think of the resolution of the story? Did it leave you satisfied?"

"Well, I guess so. It was neat and wrapped up. It was still suitably ambigious enough for a Murakami story though. The whole thing was only a short story of his. It was padded out by the illustrations. And it was nothing new from Murakami. More of the same really. But I did love the library and the idea of it's hidden side."

"Yes, we can see from our reading that this did resonate with you. I will lower the ladder now Brendon. Doctor Sato assures me that they have all the reading they need."

"Thank you Moriko."

But despite the ladder coming down I felt a calm relaxation and sat at the bottom of the well for a few more minutes. It was quiet and dark. it was unusually comfortable.

When I climbed out Moriko said with a smile "You liked it in the instrument didn't you?"

"Yes, there is something comfortingly primeval about it."

"Dr Kato said that he was inspired to build the instrument during his time in an internment camp during World War II. Would you like to hear about it?"

"No thank you Moriko. I don't believe I have the time for a World War II flashback."

"Very well Brendon. Follow me."

Moriko lead me out of the laboratory and the doctors both gave me a bow. I returned a bow to them making sure it was as least as low as theirs. I remember that from something I have read. At the reception Moriko handed my some gift vouchers for Kinokuniya and thanked me again. She then called the elevator for me and wished me goodbye.

I went around the corner and purchased The Victorians and Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension. And I also got a frozen yogurt.

Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
December 13, 2014
I just did not get what this book is all about. Is this a children's book? Is this to scare children to go to libraries to read? Is this something like Antoine de St. Exupery's The Little Prince? However, I cannot think of any hidden message of the book. While reading, I was waiting for any of the characters to utter endearing lines like those spoken by the Little Prince or the fox in St. Exupery's classic. None.

The only good thing about this book is its unique and attractive look. The cover has an overlapping flaps that meet vertically and can be snapped together. It also has thick colorful pages and the fonts are eye-friendly, i.e., big. The whole thing gives it an appeal for a children's book. But then again, it has no clear message that can teach a children a lesson or two except of course, to be afraid of going alone to a library.

Sorry, Murakami fans. This one did not pass my expectations of him.
October 12, 2021
5 ⭐

A mesmerising and inventive tale reminiscent of Kafka, from the master of the idiosyncratic, the sinister and the nonsensical. Absolutely dream-like and extraordinary! 👏


In The Strange Library, Haruki Murakami exhibits the full import of his quirky allusiveness.

A single page into the story, and we know - as does the nameless Kid - that all is not right at the Library today. Right off the bat, the strange proclaimed in the title becomes the operative word generating thoughts and feelings of the most perplexed kind. Murakami succeeds in creating an aura of suspense and surreality - announced by the sounds "echoing ominously" - as we venture into the maze that is the underground Library, towards the basement and the erudite little old man in Room 107 who contrives to somewhat forcefully lead the Kid to the Reading Room. All then plunges into chaos and darkness, amidst the "enormous labyrinth" that signals the inexorability of a fate being sealed. The sheer absurdity of the storyline reaches its crux when we learn that - locked in a cell-like room - the Kid is expected to memorise three massive tomes about tax collection in the times of the Ottoman Empire...

Murakami embraces the brevity of the genre whilst remarkably showcasing his knack for poetic imagery, interconnected juxtapositions and recurring allusions:

- the play between dark 🌑 versus light💡, the former palpably prevailing and closing in: "gloomy corridor", "creepy room", "as quiet as a graveyard in the dead of night", "pitch black", "as dark as if a hole had been pierced in the cosmos", "we stepped into the dying light", "not a ray of light anywhere", and so on;

- the inexplicable and absurd together with their resultant dilemmas: "How could I escape?", "How much of what I remember really happened?", "Could I have been dreaming?", is it not "awfully cruel" for the old man to go to such lengths?;

- an element of escalating, gruesome macabre 😱 bordering on the sadistic, whereby torture and punishment are inflicted for no apparent reason: "The top of your head’ll be sawed off and all your brains’ll get slurped right up"; or be locked in "a jar with ten thousand caterpillars" should the victims antagonise the old man's desires. The latter, moreover, diabolically resorts to the kid's deepest fears and most pain-ridden memories by way of maximising his suffering.

The Scream by Edvard Munch

The pervasive effect of Murakami's writing is a resounding tension - a degree of consternation - triggered by that sense of a primal concept being put on display, subtle yet impossible to shrug off. Talk of new moons shaping the characters' destinies and the idea of stories intermingling is crucial to Murakami's philosophy: "Our worlds are all jumbled together—[...] Sometimes they overlap and sometimes they don’t". In this particular story, the elected as well as the non-elected - the Kid is purposely generic - are at the mercy of the desperate mission to conserve knowledge, such that the old man comes to embody the forces that allow for a Library to be. Thematically, it seems to touch on the crises of literature and libraries at large, as well as the absurdities inherent in an overly-bureaucratic world that annihilates its value components. In fact, there is at times a resigned sense of powerlessness ("the world follows its own course") that hints at the idea of overarching meaningless, in turn counterbalanced by the inner drive that pulls the protagonists away from the darkness. Murakami seems to argue that fanatic extremism is to be perceived for what it is: ultimately destructive and dehumanising.

As with any text by Murakami, characters with the most peculiar of traits and personalities occupy centre stage: the assistant of the old man whose sheepskin costume wins him the denomination of Sheep Man 🐑; the voiceless Girl🚶‍♀️who is as breath-taking as she is effervescent (possessing the quality of an apparition), the kid's starling 🐦 (personified and elevated to a sacrificial token of faithfulness).


Beautiful Quotes 🌹:

"She looked as if she were reading the right-hand page with her right eye, and the left-hand page with her left."

"The tricky thing about mazes is that you don’t know if you’ve chosen the right path until the very end. If it turns out you were wrong, it’s usually too late to go back and start again."

"[Thinking] about how it feels to be alone, and the depth of the darkness surrounding me. Darkness as pitch black as the night of the new moon."

"just because I don’t exist in the sheep man’s world, it doesn’t mean that I don’t exist at all."
Profile Image for Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤.
811 reviews1,274 followers
February 10, 2021
"Because brains packed with knowledge are yummy, that’s why. They’re nice and creamy. And sort of grainy at the same time."

When I placed a hold on this, I did so thinking it was a full length novel, not an 87 page novella. With just about any other author, I would have returned it unread when I saw how short it is. 

But! The author is Haruki Murakmi so I knew it would be a good story despite its brevity. I knew it would be something I'd get lost in for the duration of its pages. 

Ah, Haruki, Haruki, Haruki..... No one tells a story quite like you!

Plot summary:
Young boy goes to the library where he is tossed into a cell and told he has a month to memorize the three tomes he requested. Man covered in sheep fur is his sympathetic jailer. He informs boy the librarian wants to eat his brain after it's filled with the words of the books. Sheepman sometimes turns into a beautiful young girl who speaks through her hands -- not with her hands as in sign language, but with her hands. Beautiful girl who talks through hands wants to help boy escape.

Now, that probably doesn't sound like much and most authors could not take that and turn it into a really good story, especially not in 87 pages.... but Haruki Murakami is not just most authors. He is Haruki Murakami.

If this was a novel, it would be five shining stars. I've deducted one because it's so short. As fun as it was to take this ride, I was kicked off too soon.

Haruki Murakami fans will love this. All others.... well, how can anyone not be a fan??
Profile Image for Tanu.
355 reviews426 followers
August 23, 2023
“No matter what the situation may be, I still take pleasure in witnessing the joy of others."

What a tale! It finally hit me like a tonne of bricks. Haruki Murakami's gloomy story is completely unexpected. Murakami has a remarkable capacity to rip open the natural world and unleash all the enchantment that we hope and suspect lies beneath the surface. Even if the existence of The Strange Library signals that the well-respected novelist has achieved superstar status in the world of reading, it is worth celebrating because this status is not commonly held these days by an author with such literary chops and depth of heart, it is a cause for celebration in the Murakami over.

I get what the author is attempting to say in this brief fantasy/magical realism novel. I can sense the terror, the apprehension, the interaction with reality's strangeness, the unavoidable turn of events, and some memories that will never fade. It's just stunning. I kept wanting more, but the novel came to a close too quickly.

Grab your copy here or here.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.7k followers
March 25, 2018
what a strange little book. i think i enjoyed the illustrative presentation of the book more than the story itself, but it was a quick intro to murakami and i am looking forward to reading his other works.

3 stars
Profile Image for Susan Budd.
Author 6 books226 followers
June 12, 2023
I have always been fascinated by dreams. As a child, I found it curious that the very same people, places, and things that I encountered in the real world could be so strangely distorted in the dream world. It was the experience I have come to know as the familiar rendered unfamiliar. Stranger still was the opposite experience. The places I had never been that felt so familiar.

In the dream world, everything is slightly askew. The rules of reality don’t apply. Two people can be one and one can be two. A person can be both himself and someone else entirely. In the dream world, all the logic of Aristotle gives way to irrational leaps of the imagination. One thing leads to another, not by cause-and-effect, but by thought and association. Somehow I felt at home in this world. At least most of the time.

I still remember some dreams from my childhood and among those early dream memories are some nightmares. Nightmares can be so terrifying that they cause the dreamer to wake up, but there are also bad dreams where the anxiety never reaches a level that awakens the dreamer. These dreams run their course.

Haruki Murakami’s The Strange Library is like every childhood nightmare rolled into one. First, the familiar is rendered unfamiliar by the discovery of hidden spaces heretofore unknown. Suddenly the most innocent thing is seen to have a sinister underside that is at once absurd and strangely logical.

There is the dark underground labyrinth. The place of confinement. The Kafkaesque authority figure who issues bizarre commands as if they were commonplace, who threatens the most outlandish and horrific punishments for failing to meet preposterous demands.

Then there are the incongruities. Lovely things somehow coexisting with the horrors. The claustrophobic prison cell and the delicious meals served by a pretty girl. The ogreish librarian who eats brains and the sheepish jailer who supplies homemade donuts. The unreasonable task and the mysterious ability to meet it. The dream within a dream.

I think part of the strangeness of dreams comes from the dreamer’s own response to the strange experiences. Murakami’s narrator is more concerned about his mother worrying than having his head sawn open. During his escape, he becomes preoccupied with his forgotten shoes. He ponders the impossibility of such a labyrinth existing under a public library, but never questions such weird punishments as being thrown into a jar of squirmy caterpillars.

The real fears in this nightmare are the ones that are based on reality. The dog that once bit him. The bird that he must protect. And of course, true to dream logic, these two fears come together in the nightmare, for the nightmare is where all one’s paranoid fantasies manifest.

When I remember a dream well, I always try to find its meaning by comparing the dream world to the real world. The same might be done with The Strange Library. In the real world of Murakami’s novella, the narrator lives with his mother. She worries excessively and appears to have an anxiety disorder.

The narrator is a child who needs to be self-sufficient because his mother’s illness prevents her from taking proper care of him. Perhaps the bird represents him and he takes care of himself by taking care of the bird. Perhaps his persistent fear of the dog is his internalization of his mother’s fears. If so, then the bird being crushed in the jaws of the dog represents the narrator being crushed by the dangers that lurk in the world.

His mother taught him that when he wants to know something, he should go to the library. Thus the library is part of his attempt to be self-sufficient. But it is also his escape from reality. The nightmare is a hideous parody of this desire to escape: the place that he escapes to has become the place he must escape from.

No doubt there is symbolic meaning in the sheep man and the voiceless girl. Perhaps they represent parts of himself. I have not read Murakami’s other novels, so I do not know how the bird, the sheep man, and other motifs figure in his oeuvre. But I too have my dream motifs. I am no stranger to labyrinths. They are a standard feature of my dreams along with winding staircases and hidden rooms.

My fascination with dreams is the force behind much of my own writing. I believe there is meaning in the recurring images we see in our dreams. Some are archetypal and some are personal. In the course of our lives we experience various permutations of these images. I believe this is the language of our deepest selves. It is a language I never tire of studying.

Black Dog
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,531 reviews978 followers
June 17, 2016

And ever since I was little my mother had told me, if you don’t know something, go to the library and look it up.


OK! That’s sound advice. I should know: I once had four different library cards in my pocket, before I even heard of these things called internet and cable television. But this is Japan (have you seen those super weird game shows they love so much?) and this is a Murakami short story, so a library visit can take you to unexpected and bizarre (dark) places.

A young boy interested in how to build your own submarine and how taxes were collected in the Ottoman Empire is caught like a fly in a spiderweb by an unusual librarian with a fetish for knowledge:


Brains packed with knowledge are yummy, that’s why. They’re nice and creamy. And sort of grainy at the same time.”

Little kids love being scared out of their pants, right? I remember I loved those un-Bowdlerized Grimm tales with wolves wolfing down your granny and little kids thrown into the oven for dinner. Our unnmaed narrator has his own share of terror in the maze-like corridors of the library:

If I did that, I’d be chucked into a jar full of hairy caterpillars. A big jar, with about ten thousand of the buggers crawling around, for three whole days.


How would he ever get out of this nightmare? Where’s a fairy godmother when you need one? Again, this is Murakami, so his fairytale must include some food references, some sheep and birds and a mysterious, alluring nubile girl. Enough said, read the damn fairytale if you want to find out more. It’s very short and it has a lot of pictures to give it extra bulk. It’s a fine example of the Murakami weirdness and magical realism, even if personally I found it underdeveloped, not particularly suited for kids and too much of a

“I get it,” I said. “Our worlds are all jumbled together—your world, my world, the sheep man’s world. Sometimes they overlap and sometimes they don’t. That’s what you mean, right?”

Profile Image for Amira Mahmoud.
618 reviews8,298 followers
August 4, 2015
أقسم أن قراءة تلك القصة القصيرة _ المتناهية الصغر _ كافية لجعل هؤلاء الصغار بل والكبار يفرون هربًا من أمام المكتبات ويرتعدون لمجرد ذكرها
قراءات الأطفال من أكثر القراءات التي يجب أن تكون على درجة عالية من الانتقائية
ذلك أن كل ما يقرؤه يشكل وعيهم ويؤثر في لاوعيهم ونفسيتهم
أن تقدم لهم قصة قصيرة برسوم كاريكاتير من أجل إرعابهم فقط
دون أن تٌقدم لهم قيمة ما، درس ما أو على الأقل تجعلهم يفكرون بشكل أفضل
أو حتى إمتاعهم فقط دون أفادتهم
وتتركهم هكذا معلقين بنهاية غير مفهومة
نحن اعتدنا على النهايات الموراكامية التي تتركنا حيارى، لكن لا أعتقد أن الأطفال سيتقبلوها
لا أعلم أي شياطين دفعته لكتابة هذه القصة !!
Profile Image for Hrachia Mirzakhanian.
11 reviews28 followers
July 15, 2020
قبل از هر چیزی بگم کل زمان خوانش این کتاب به ۱ ساعت نخواهد رسید، چیزی در حدود ۹۰ صفحه که دقیقا نیمی از آن عکس می باشد. پس حتما به همه کسانی که کتاب داستانی دوست دارند توصیه اش میکنم.
داستان ظاهرا به صورت رئالیسم جادویی نوشته شده است که با تمامی علت و معلول های خاص خودش دنیایی واقعی ساخته و البته عنصر خاصی که جادویی و غیر طبیعی می باشد نیز دارد.
داستان پسری که وارد کتاب خانه ای میشه تا کتاب هایی که قرض گرفته رو برگردونه و یه سری کتاب جدید بگیره اما اتفاقاتی اونجا براش میافته که ماجرا مطابق میلش پیش نمیرود.
پسرک قصه ما دائما از مادرش و سارش صحبت می کند و خاطره ای از سگی که در کودکی گازش گرفته است می گوید. پسرک بابت تاخیر در رسیدن به خانه و دلواپس شدن مادرش می گوید تا ما میزان وابستگی او به مادرش و میزان اهمیت مادرش در زندگیش را بدانیم. در کتابخانه با پیرمرد، مردی در لباس گوسفند و دخترک خوشرویی آشنا می شود.
تمامی عناصری که نامبره شد به نوعی در انتهای قصه به هم گره می خورند و یکی از اینها تبدیل به عنصر جادویی و غیر طبیعی می شود.
Profile Image for Araz Goran.
824 reviews3,629 followers
October 22, 2015

قصة مجنونة بقلم موراكامي..

حتى المكتبة في عالم موراكامي تبدو ضرباً من الجنون واللامعقول ،هنا حيث حافة الهاوية الضبابية بين الواقع وبين الهبوط نحو الخيال ..

الترجمة كانت سيئة للأسف، لم تُعط للقصة حقها..

320 reviews357 followers
November 29, 2018
كيف يُدخلك موراكامى متاهته الخاصة فى 30 صفحة
جزء مهم جداً من عظمة وأهمية أى كاتب أنه يقدر يعيشك أحداث رواية ويدخلك فى قلبها - تتعاطف مع هذا وتكره ذلك وتنكر هذا وتتقبل ذلك - فى أقل عدد ممكن من الكلمات فما بالك بأحداث غرائبية كعادة موراكامى وفى قلب مكتبة يحتلها عجوز قاسى القلب يجبر طفل تنتظره أمه على قراءة 3 مجلدات فى شهر ويربطه بكرة حديدة فى غرفة بقبو المكتبة وكل هذا فى 30 صفحة.
حقيقةً موراكامى قادر على التلاعب بأفكارك والإيقاع بك بين براثن كلماته حتى تظن أنك تغرق فى عالمه حدث ذلك معى فى روايته الطويلة كافكا على الشاطئ وفى روايته الأقصر المرآة والآن حدث كل ذلك معى فى 30 صفحة.
لن أطيل هنا بالحديث عن عبقريته فى وصف الارتباط بين القراء والكتب فهذا سبقنى له الكثير من الأصدقاء ولكن سأذكركم بعدة جمل:
لماذا شئ كهذا يحدث لى ؟ كل ما فعلته هو أننى كنت أذهب للمكتبة كى أستعير الكتب.
نعم الكلام لك أنت من فضلت القراءة على مجالسة الأصدقاء أو الاستماع للموسيقى . . أنت يا من بدلّت بالكتب الصحاب ولم تجد أوفى الكتاب ... كن على قدر المسئولية وعلى قدر الحدث الذى تضع نفسك بين يديه مطلوب منك أن تنقل المعارف و أن تتحمل تكلفة أن تتفتح عيناك على عوالم لم تكن مطلعاً عليها لو ظللت فى حضرة الأصدقاء والرفاق.
لكن لو قمت باستظهار هذه الكتب الثلاث كاملةً .. هل سيطلق سراحى
لا لن يطلق سراحك يا صديقى فقد وقعت فى شراك القراءة اللعين/الحبيب الذى لا مهرب منه
عوالمنا تداخلت معاً .. عالمك , وعالم الرجل الخروف .. أحياناً تتداخل وأحياناً تبقى منفصلة
هكذا هى القراءة تداخلت عوالمنا وتتقاطع وتنفصل أحياناً وتبتعد لكن نظل فى النهاية جميعاً حبيسى نفس الشراك
لو كان كل ما يفعلونه هو أن يعيروا المعارف .. من ذا الذى سيكافئهم؟
هذه معضلة من معضلات الثقافة والتى ربما لم أتصور أنها تحدث فى بلد متطور ومثقف مثل اليابان .. من الذى يكافئ ناشرى العلم والثقافة الحقيقيين فى العالم .. دعونا نتفق أنه لا مثقف يقتات من ثقافته وعلمه ولا مبدع نجحت موهبته أن تأكله عيش بالعامية المصرية كل ما فى الأمر أن تظل الصورة الذهنية للمثقف إما الشيوعى أبو شعر طويل ومنكوش وريحته وحشة وبجزمة مقطعة أو صاحب اللحية المضحوك عليه اللى بيقتتطع الكلام من سياقه كما يقتتطع جزءاً أسفل من جلبابه .. خلينا واضحين ده اللى نجحت الأنظمة الحاكمة فى تصديره للناس أو العامة من الناس إن صح التعبير عن المثقفين والقراء فى عالمنا بشكل عام .. صورة المثقف الشيك ده النصاب اللى بيحاول يوهم الناس بأنه عالم ومثقف ودى صورة تم تصديرها لنا مؤخراً كنوع من الدعاية للروايات الأكثر مبيعاً .. طب إيه الحل لأزمة الثقافة والمثقفين فى عالمنا العربى هل نقدر نضع الحلول المناسبة؟
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