after the quake – Haruki Murakami
August 15, 2009 § 10 Comments
Another Murakami, another on for the Japanese Literature Challenge. This time, it’s not a novel, but rather a collection of his short stories. And short they are too!
This book is a collection of 6 short stories, all completely unrelated to each other, except for one minute detail, which is that they are all set during the period after the Kobe earthquake.
My favourite of the six was .. I rather think it’s actually quite difficult for me to pick a favourite, because each one of them had quite a different flavour from one another, and had a different appeal. Though saying that, if I simply had to choose, I’d say it’s a toss-up between ‘landscape with flatiron’, and ‘thailand’.
‘landscape with flatiron’, I particularly enjoyed because I found it very deep and soulful. The story was told in such a way that I felt like I was sitting there with the characters, watching the fire as it grew, completely entranced with it.
As for ‘thailand’, perhaps it is because I come from Malaysia, and since Thailand is the only neighbour country that connects physically with my own, I felt the intimacy, and also felt quite strongly the distinct Thai flavour within the story, despite it also being very Japanese in character.
All the stories though, had a very dignified quietness to them. Although the stories were set during the period after such a natural disaster, there was almost none of the hysterics that one would normally associate with the aftermath of an earthquake. In fact, the stories felt almost serene.
But then again, ‘serene’ is actually quite a vague way to put it, and might I add, maybe even a little inaccurate, because there are unimaginable twists and unexpected turns inserted at some very odd junctions of each story. Just when you start to think you’ve got the characters figured out, he shows you otherwise. And the story ends without you ever being the wiser.
I’m probably only not satisfied with one thing, and that is the stories were indeed SHORT. In a sense, I had wanted some of the stories to go on for a little while longer. But they always end a tad too quickly, making me wish I could catch at least one more glimpse of what the character was thinking, but instead was left hanging on that final sentence.
Maybe short stories are supposed to be that way. Maybe they’re supposed to leave us hanging, to let our own imaginations fly. Maybe short stories are supposed to engage us in thought even after the story is done. Maybe short stories never actually end.
Conclusion: I’d rate this at 4 out of 5. I’ll be reading more of his short story collections to see if I still get that feeling of “It’s not enough!”
Postscript: My computer crashed again. It’s the second time in as many weeks. Sigh..