Sunday, October 5, 2008

After Dark

I was captured with curiosity when I read about the Japanese Literature reading Challenge 2. Last year I had the great joy of traveling with my 17 yr old niece to Japan for the end of autumn and beginning of Winter. I was spell bound by the natural beauty of the country, and in awe of the amazing richness of culture and spirituality. Given my new found appreciation for the differences in the Japanese Culture, I thought reading some of the countries literature would be a new discovery. It has been so far.

Haruki Murakami has written a beautiful story that engaged my in an alternative world for a period of time. The cover says 'Murakumi, master of the surreal, returns with a stunning new novel, where familiar can become unfamiliar after midnight...'

Definitely surreal, having a sense of being in 2 different worlds at once - I felt strangely engaged in Mari's story, I guess knowing what it was like at 17yrs to want to stay away and spend the night at Denny's. I made sense of the strangeness of Eri's world by imagining a young gril who had been treated and laballed beautiful and shallow, as if noone expected anything from her, except her beauty, she didn't need to wake up.

Mari's personal struggle with her sisters long sleep was woven into issues of her grief for the lost love of her parents, her own loss of a part of her and maybe her knowing the pain her sister felt for not being someone else.

I was struggling to make sense of eri's transfer to the room/office space of Shirakawa, the perpetrator of violence towards women. My thinking was the Eri represented all women, being transported to that space to indicate that women have become objects to this man.

I enjoyed reading a novel with a great deal of depth, and one which I believe has several powerful messages threaded through it. Im definitely moving on to my second Japanese challenge!


Bellezza said...

I'm not so good at picking up on Murakami's messages. He's my "new" favorite author, I just love his work, but I'm not sure I understand all he wants to say. For now, I'm content to read the novels, dwell in their pages with their characters and settings. I plan on rereading both After Dark, and Kafka On The Shore, to see if I can figure out any of the questions I have left in my mind. I like your thoughts on After Dark.

It must have been so wonderful to visit Japan. I've only been to Europe, myself. Wasn't it weird to imagine a Denny's in Toyko? I can still picture him eating his chicken salad...

Bellezza said...

By the way, shall I list you as a participant in the Japanese Literature Challenge 2? It's exciting to hear you're on to another Japanese book, so I'm assuming you're participating in the challenge. Let me know if you'd like to be included at