After The Quake by Haruki Murakami
Illustrated by: n/a
Translated by: Jay Rubin
Length: 162 pages
Narrated By: N/A
Genre: Adult Fiction, Japanese Fiction, Short Story, Magical Realism, Contemporary Fiction
Where Did I Get It? I bought a copy to read as part of an online reading challenge.
Blurb: 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.
Opening Line(s) from the first story ‘UFO in Kushiro’:
Five straight days she spent in front of the television, staring at crumbled banks and hospitals, whole blocks of stores in flames, severed rail lines and expressways. She never said a word.
My Review: With After The Quake I had never heard of either the author or the book itself before I picked it up. I only got it because I joined an online group that does monthly challenges through the year and January’s challenge was to read this book!
I’m glad I did it though.
I haven’t read much Japanese fiction in the past, in fact I can only think of one other off the top of my head, and I like expanding my reading horizons.
I enjoyed Mukarami’s writing style very much, his bold imagery and stark descriptions really brought the six short stories to life. I even enjoyed the very abstract parts of the stories because when I wasn’t entirely convinced I understood what was going on, the lyrical writing carried me through without losing my interest.
Sometimes you just had to get to the end of the story before everything clicked into place and the abstract ideas suddenly had purpose and form. It was really very clever.
I particularly loved the last two stories in the collection: Super-Frog Saves Tokyo and Honey-Pie.
Super-Frog was very much magical realism and was quite dream-like with you never being sure if the main character was just hallucinating the whole thing or not. This was a visual and sometimes graphic story but I found it incredibly powerful and it has popped back into my head a few times since I finished reading a couple of weeks ago.
Honey-Pie was more realistic fiction and I loved the honesty of the storyline. It was a love-triangle type story without feeling clichéd, the characters were all human who made mistakes and bad choices as well as good choices. It all came together at the end and was just a truly lovely piece of writing.
After The Quake was a quick read and I really recommend picking it up if you enjoy reading short stories.
My Rating: 4/5*
Sound like your kind of read?
And after a long time away, I’m back linking up to Mama Mummy Mum’s Read With Me Linky!