After Dark

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, May 8, 2007 - Fiction - 208 pages
43 Reviews
A sleek, gripping novel of encounters set in Tokyo during the spooky hours between midnight and dawn, by an internationally renowned literary phenomenon.

Murakami's trademark humor, psychological insight, and grasp of spirit and morality are here distilled with an extraordinary, harmonious mastery. Combining the pyrotechnical genius that made Kafka on the Shore and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle international bestsellers, with a surprising infusion of heart, Murakami has produced one of his most enchanting fictions yet.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

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Q. How did you like the book?
A. It was confusing for me. I know Murakami is not a conventional author, and I enjoyed a more recent book of his, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki. But this one was hard to
enjoy, and sometimes hard to follow. I think Murakami is attempting to get readers to think about life, connections, the wonderment of the mundane, and lurking evil, and all this he does. But when it comes to Sleeping Beauty, Eri Asai, well, how interesting can a perpetually sleeping young woman be?
Q. She only sleeps?
A. Well, her sister alleges that she eats and showers and goes to the bathroom, though they never see her doing this. Instead, Murakami lets us be a "point of view," so that we can snoop on Eri. But then she disappears into a television screen with a strange, masked man, then comes back after a while. I didn't get it, frankly. Maybe that's Murakami's point. Little has been written about just sleeping per se, so he's going out on a frontier here by doing it, by challenging readers not to get bored. I was bored. Everytime I saw Eri's name, I was like, "Oh no, here we go again with the sleeping and the floating point of view."
Q. So you would not recommend the book to others?
A. But there are good aspects. I learned a lot about contemporary Japan, the young people, the whore houses, the criminal element, Tokyo, and all this was interesting. So it's kind of a mixed bag. The book is so small, it's really more a novella. You can finish it in two or three sittings. So yes, I do recommend it. Be prepared to sleep through the Eri parts, though. Of course, remember it's translated from Japanese.
 

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After Dark is a moving novella that shows every last person we meet has a story from their lives that we wouldn't believe. It also shows how, even if we don't realize it, our actions can have a profound and lasting effect on those around us. Murakami does a great job of showing individual men and women's psychological complexities, and also boiling them down into simple dialogue. That, to me, is one of this novel's biggest strengths: each character is shown in their highs, lows, and "shadowy middleground," as one character puts it.
After Dark also shows the importance of family, as well as how complicated different family situations can be. Murakami does a great job, in this novella, of examining different moral situations along with different choices we face in life without judgement. This is a book showing the beauty and pain of every day, or gray, situations.
I think this novel goes a long way in showing how different, and yet similar, life can be for different people. One of the main examples of this is the nineteen year old prostitute that Mari speaks with. Both characters were the same age, but living very different lives. I found it really moving how Mari looked at the Chinese girl.
There are a lot of metaphysical quips in this book. To me, these literary devices are used, in most situations, to show different character's psychological complexes played out in concrete language and images. One example is when a character is looking the mirror, thinking that he is just fading away, and doesn't have a clear sense of identity. Then he walks away, and his reflection is still in the mirror after he's gone.
To me, this shows that, even though we don't usually think of ourselves as offering any important or lasting prints on the world around us, we, as individuals, leave a mark, somewhere between the spectrum of good and bad.
Eri didn't think she was close with her sister, but Mari had very powerful memories of her in the elevator. To me, this book is trying to show that our actions have real consequences, and we influence the people around us more than we may think.
It's normal for an individual to see their faults, regardless of their validity. The way different characters comment on each other's lives shows that each person has more to offer than they themselves think.
Another thing After Dark does is raise compassion for the people around us. I think it's normal, in our daily routines, to look past people doing this or that. Murakami, with this novel, tries to show that every last person we meet, or don't meet, for that matter, has a story that would surprise us.
After Dark isn't a masterpiece, but it's a great novel looking at coming into your own as a person, and seeing how complex the world around you is.
 

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Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
24
Section 3
30
Section 4
47
Section 5
51
Section 6
64
Section 7
76
Section 8
83
Section 10
101
Section 11
125
Section 12
134
Section 13
163
Section 14
167
Section 15
174
Section 16
183
Section 17
193

Section 9
86

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About the author (2007)

Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into more than fifty languages, and the most recent of his many honors is the Yomiuri Literary Prize, whose previous recipients include Yukio Mishima, Kenzaburo Oe, and Kobo Abe.




From the Trade Paperback edition.

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