Thursday, October 07, 2010

South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami


What would you do if the girl you loved suddenly appeared in your life twenty years after you last spoke? How would you handle the influx of emotions when your comfortable life of marriage and two kids feels like it is ripping apart? These are some of the central questions in Murakami’s short novel South of the Border, West of the Sun.

Hajime is an isolated boy growing up in the Japanese suburbs until he forms a bond with Shimamoto a girl from the neighborhood. They become best friends, sharing a love of music and relying on each other during the difficult teenage years. When Hajime moves a short distance away their time together diminishes until eventually they drift apart.

Flash forward to Hajime in his mid-thirties: married, children, nightclub owner, and still wondering about the girl that he knew so many years ago. And then one night she walks into his club and...you’ll just have to read to find out. But know that this is Murakami and the outcome will feature the unexpected shrouded in mysteries that may defy explanation.

South of the Border, West of the Sun is a good introduction to one of Japan’s most popular novelists. Another excellent contemporary Japanese novelist is Kenzaburo Oe, winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize in literature.

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