Tuesday, July 09, 2013

after the quake by Haruki Murakami

This is the first time I've read Haruki Murakami's work.

after the quake is a collection of short stories with the Kobe quake in 1995 as the central character. Actually not, the quake is not central. It is omnipresent like a background setting but doesn't have a direct impact on any stories or characters. It is a brewing theme underneath the day to day life, and time and again it takes the form of simple emotions.

It's a small book. Just a few stories.
UFO in Kushiro - a man who lost his wife (she left him after the quake) finds out about a UFO sighting with similar consequences, and how to keep bears away.
Landscape with Flatiron - a man left his family to light bonfires in a beach town waiting to die trapped in a refrigerator, and how a young woman loves bonfires.
All God's children can dance - a man finds his father and in the dark dances because all god's children can dance.
Thailand - a woman hates a man enough to wish him dead in the quake, and how she finds peace in a small hut.
Super-frog saves Tokyo - a man fights along side Super-frog to prevent a quake in Tokyo, even if no one else believes him.
Honey Pie - a young girl is afraid of the earthquake man who will put her in a box, even as her parents are stuck in an unexpressed love triangle.

Stories are simple instances, some span over a couple of days, some span over an evening. All of them inexplicably sad. The type of sadness instilled by loneliness and longing, accentuated by the almost matter-of-fact narrative style that accepts the sadness without a fight. Pretty depressing actually. But almost all of them end in a tiny bit of hope, and a tiny hint of a smile. Sad stories with happy endings.

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