Wednesday, October 29, 2008

After Dark

After Dark
By Haruki Murakami
(Author's Website)
Publisher: Vintage International
Published: April 2008
ISBN-13: 9780307388889
244 pages

Page 206: That people's memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive. Whether those memories have any actual importance or not, it doesn't matter as far as the maintenance of life is concerned. They're all just fuel.

After Dark by Haruki Murakami tells the story of what happens to a few particular persons between 11.56 P.M. and 6.52 A.M. in Tokyo on a particular night. I find the premise of this novel intriguing. It takes all sorts of people to do all sorts of odd things during ungodly hours while the others are asleep.

There is this girl, Mari Asai who parks herself at a restaurant reading a thick book, waiting for dawn to come. She dreads being at home. A lanky young man—about her age—then comes into the restaurant and he chooses to sit with her. We do not know his name until much later in the wee hours of the same night. He recognizes Mari from an outing some time ago where he met her and her sister, Eri. Even though Eri is beautiful and she models, she is a troubled young woman. The two sisters don’t get along. There is a secret that, at this point, Mari has not disclosed about her sister. The unnamed young man leaves the restaurant after finishing his meal for his all-night band practice.

At a nearby love hotel, a Chinese prostitute is badly beaten by a customer. He takes off with all of the poor girl’s possessions including her clothes. Coincidentally, the earlier young man at the restaurant is a friend of Kaoru, an ex-female wrestler who is in charge of the love hotel and he informs Kaoru that she will find a girl named Mari who speaks Chinese to help the Chinese prostitute. Kaoru manages to track her down at the restaurant.

What is amazing about this story is that how people’s paths crossed all in one single night. Things happen while the rest of the world lay asleep, dreaming in their beds. This is a gripping, psychological novel. I think the clock illustration that marks the time at the start of each chapter adds an interesting feel to it.

This is my first Haruki Murakami book and I definitely want to read more of his work in the future. I enjoyed reading After Dark and it kept me interested until the end.