South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami
[Image courtesy of bookdepository.com]
I found this book during one of those books warehouse sales, and I have to admit, I was hesitant in buying it in the first place. This was, after all, Murakami. You either hate his books, or you love them. And up till then, I had not been able to decide yet, despite having read a few of his mega-hits.
Even now, as I am writing this post, I remain undecided, just as I’m not sure if my reaction to the book should be a “huh?” or a “hmmm…”.
I won’t write about the story, partly because you can read the overview below, but mainly because I don’t know where to begin. Sure enough, the story starts with the protagonist’s childhood and progresses to a tipping point in his late thirties, but I’m not sure the story line was the main point. This is one of those books that make me wonder what exactly was the writer trying to say with the story.
For now, all I know is that I will need a long break before I will pick up Murakami’s novels again.
VERDICT: You will hate this book if you like your stories to be clear in what the writer’s trying to say, and to have conclusive endings, with all your questions answered. This is a book that leaves more questions than answers, so steer clear of it if you don’t want to feel disturbed. On the other hand, if you need some mental stimulation and are tired of the usual story lines, this might be worth a try, especially since it’s a relatively thin book.
For those who want to know a little about the story line, here’s an overview from bookdepository.com:
Born in 1951 in an affluent Tokyo suburb, Hajime “beginning” in Japanese has arrived at middle age wanting for almost nothing. The postwar years have brought him a fine marriage, two daughters, and an enviable career as the proprietor of two jazz clubs. Yet a nagging sense of inauthenticity about his success threatens Hajime s happiness. And a boyhood memory of a wise, lonely girl named Shimamoto clouds his heart. In “South of the Border, West of the Sun,” the simple arc of a man s life with its attendant rhythms of success and disappointment becomes the exquisite literary terrain of Haruki Murakami s most haunting work. When Shimamoto shows up one rainy night, now a breathtaking beauty with a secret from which she is unable to escape, the fault lines of doubt in Hajime s quotidian existence begin to give way. And the details of stolen moments past and present a Nat King Cole melody, a face pressed against a window, a handful of ashes drifting downriver to the sea threaten to undo him completely. Rich, mysterious, quietly dazzling, “South of the Border, West of the Sun” is Haruki Murakami s wisest and most compelling work.”