Thursday, October 23, 2008

After Dark

I know I have a bunch of pending reviews and I wanted to finish those before reviewing books I read now…but I just finished After Dark by Haruki Murakami and I just HAD to write about it immediately.

This is my second Murakami book. I read Norwegian Wood earlier this year and I found that it was very dark and very intense… but, nevertheless, I liked it! I saw “After Dark” on the library shelf when I was browsing and decided to pick it up.

After Dark is a novel that is based on the happenings in one night. Different people; Different places; but somehow, they are all connected.

Mari Asai is spending the night away from home just to “get away from it all”. She has a voluminous book in hand and she plans to sit in a restaurant all night just reading. Well, that doesn’t happen. Her night is eventful. She meets one of her sister’s friends, helps a Chinese prostitute who has been beaten up by one of her customers, feeds kittens a tuna sandwich in the park, meets a girl who’s been hiding for three years running away from a cruel past, and most importantly comes to terms with who she is and the relationship she shares with her sister. Too much for one night, you might say… and I agree but when you read the book, you’ll realize that a night is actually long and there’s so much that you can do when the world is asleep.

In another part of the city, Mari’s sister, Eri Asai is asleep. But her sleep doesn’t seem natural. She’s breathing but there’s something unreal about her when she’s sleep. [This was, frankly, the part of the book that I never got. Maybe I should read it again to understand what is actually happening to Eri. If any of you have read this book, I would love to have a discussion with you about Eri on this particular night].

As another parallel story, we see a strange workaholic. He works late, has a family that he is not too fond of. She tries to avoid them as much as he can. He doesn’t want to get home until they are all asleep and doesn’t get up until after they leave so he won’t have to meet them. He’s the one who beats up the Chinese prostitute.

As I mentioned earlier, there were parts of the book that I didn’t really understand. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to keep reading. I loved parts of it and I totally loved the way the book was written. I totally admired the way Murakami dealt with complex emotional issues. The conversations were very concise but very powerful and a lot of what is being said in the book stays with you. Murakami tries to sneak in the fact that sometimes, life’s biggest problems are usually not that big. They have a simple solution and all that you have to do is pause, get away from it and think about it from an external perspective. That kinda resonated with me.

Anyways, I enjoyed reading After Dark. It wasn’t too long or too intense. But it was powerful and interesting and different. You should give it a shot sometime too!

Other Reviews of this book -
3M  - I particularly liked the way she concisely, yet perfectly described the story of the sisters : "One of them can’t sleep and the other one won’t wake up".. 

Have you already read this one? Just leave me a comment with a link to your review and I’ll link it to this post.


Lezlie said...

I didn't always get it either, but I enjoyed this book a lot, too.

Books 'N Border Collies

S. Krishna said...

I haven't even heard of this one, but your review makes me want to read it!

3M said...

I enjoyed this one. I've thought about changing my rating from 3.5 to 4. I definitely want to read more Murakami.

My review.

Ramya said...

3 comments already? you guys are quick!:)

@lezlie - i guess you don't always have to get it to actually enjoy it..:)

@swapna - read it:) i love murakami and i am definitely going to read some of his more famous novels..

@3m - thanks for the link... shall add it to my post!:)

Sathej said...

Been reeeally held up this week.Hope to read your posts at leisure soon. But saw this one. I have been reading Murakami's Blind Willow Sleeping Woman - a collection of short stories for Orbis (God knows how I am going to be done reading for the Challenge). I really liked a few greatly, while I thought the rest were poor, to be honest. I too would love to discuss certain stories with somebody who's read the book.

Ramya said...

i was kinda held up until yesterday as well.. running behind on my review schedule;)..
i didn't know he had a collection of short stories.. thanks for letting me know.. i am working on a collection of rushdie's short stories right now.. might just pick this one up after that!:) we'd be able to discuss it then!

Dar said...

I've never heard of this one but it does sound quite good-seems to be a lot going on in a short time period. I'll have to put it on the waiting list.

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

I wonder if I would like this book. It sounds interesting.

Trish said...

isn't it funny that something or someone can go unknown to you for so long and once you find out about that thing you see it everywhere? That's how it has been for me and Murakami. I have one of his books on my shelf to read later this year and your review (again!!) has made me want to bump it up. To be honest I've been kind of intimidated by him, but maybe I'll read it early next month. Thanks for the great review!

Priya Iyer said...

i read one book by murakami and didn't like it too much... somehow i find him too cryptic and it is really difficult to grasp what the author is trying to say in certain parts..but want to try out more...a lot of people adore him...hav heard that he's a great writer... i was planning to read 'blind willow, sleeping woman' for the OT challenge too, but changed it... would love to discuss murakami's books with someone who has read them... would help in gaining a better perspective... :)

i saw this book in the bookstore recently, but didn't get it... the story sounded interesting.. would like to pick it up sometime soon.. :)

Literary Feline said...

I hope to read this book one day--or anything by this author for that matter! I've heard such great things about his work. Thank you for a great review!

Anna said...

Sounds like a great read. I've never read this author yet. Great review!

Diary of an Eccentric

Ramya said...

@dar - i'm wondering if you would like this one.. i'm curious to see what you think of it..:)

@natasha - this isn't the kind of book that i have seen read and write about.. but you should give it a shot.. murakami is a good writer.. how bad can the book get?:)

@priya- i feel that sometimes.. i just cannot to like a much raved about book or author. I sometimes feel the pressure to like it..but now i am accepting the fact that it is ok to hate something that everyone else loves!:)

@trish - i was kinda intimidated by him as well.. norwegian wood was a very powerful and intense book and i was scared to pick up another book by him so soon.. but luckily, this one was so much lighter!

@literaryfeline- if you haven't read murakami, this is not the first book you should read. It is good..but cant compare with other books by him.. you should try some of his more popular books:)

@anna - try'll like him!:)

Shauna- Reading and Ruminations said...

I had a hard time understanding exactly what was happening with Eri as well when I read this book in July. What I ended up taking out of it was this: every single character in this novel had an undeniable sense of loneliness. Even though she was beautiful and admired, Eri was just as lonely as everyone else, and this persistent sleep was her way of countering it. My theory doesn't really explain the paranormal aspect of her sleep, but I expect we weren't supposed to fully understand it.

The link to my review is here: Do you mind if I link to your review as well?

Pratima said...

I read this book as part of the OT challenge..Just finished reviewing it. Even I didnt understand parts of the book and especially the ending left me very confused!! I thought all the stories would connect together, but dint see that happen...too complex to understand!