Here's a contemporary Japanese writer which I couldn't help but notice given how well published he seems to be in my home country. Translations of his work proliferate in Portuguese libraries and a year ago one of his books caught my eye and I decided to give it as a Christmas present to a friend of mine. Before wrapping it though, I couldn't help but read a few pages. I found it somewhat entrancing, weird but very appealing at the same time. I didn't read much of it though but made a mental note of Murakami - alongside hundreds of other authors in my ever growing list.
A couple of days ago, while spending some time in my hometown for Christmas, I went out for a stroll and visited the local shopping mall. Sometimes I enjoy being on my own, wandering from store to store, especially bookshops. Taking my time to peak over a few titles, Murakami came up again and, on a whim, I brought "After Dark" home with me.
What distinguishes night from day? Is it simply the sun that is set? Or is there something else? What happens after dark? This book got me thinking about it and while there's hardly any definite answer, I'd say there's certainly a different feeling at night.
Murakami's story is then a simple tale of a group of seemingly unrelated people for the duration of one late night in Tokyo. Like many people, I'm somehow attracted to Oriental culture and Tokyo has a certain je ne sais quois, some kind of sophisticated glamour that it's not entirely easy for me to pinpoint. Sofia Coppola's "Lost In Translation" pretty much exhales whatever I'm getting at here.
And so does Murakami, with mundane people affected by mundane thoughts resulting in a story that's everything but mundane, in a David Lynch-esque sort of way, where the line between fantasy and reality is blurry most of the time, such as when a TV set suddenly comes to life or when a mirror keeps the reflection after the subject is gone. Murakami manages to convincingly turn random and otherwise passable scenarios into remarkable and compelling situations and dialogue, using the stillness of the night as his best ally.
I finished this somewhat short book a few minutes ago and because of its nature, it's still a bit difficult to gather my thoughts about it. Thought-provoking books like these usually take some time to ultimately sink in but the immediate experience was definitely rewarding. Books are devices in our way to becoming better persons, even if some are just trash and don't contribute a thing to that design. Trust me, this one does.