BOOK MARATHON: BOOK 2b; AFTER THE QUAKE by HARUKI MURAKAMI
BOOK: After The Quake
AUTHOR: Haruki Murakami
GENRE: Short Stories
FIRST PUBLISHED :2000
PUBLISHER: First Published by Kami no kodomo-tachi wa mina odoru
LANGUAGE: Translated from Japanese to English by Jay Rubin
The book is a collection of six stories all set after the Kobe earthquake that hit Japan in 1995. It was a deadly, claimed thousands of lives.
In the first story, “UFO In Kushiro”, we are introduced to Komura. He works at a hi-fi equipment store and lives a pretty good life. Komura has a wife whom he loves dearly. One day, he came from work to find his wife gone. The wife had left a note saying he was a chunk of air, and that he should not to bother looking for her. This of course is devastating to Komura. Before leaving, his wife had spent days watching the t.v and following the news about the quake. Though she never spoke much nor had a relative in Kobe, she seemed disturbed by the events after the quake. He then calls his wife’s home and the mother in law tells him that the wife did not want anything to do with him. Komura later took a one week leave from work.
While on leave, his friend Sasaki gave him a package and sent him to deliver it to his sister who lived in Kushiro. Sasaki’s sister, Keiko met Komura at the airport. She was with Shimao, a friend. I didn’t like keiko and Shimao’s characters. For strangers, (Kushiro had never met them before) they acted in a very weird manner. The girls were too inquisitive and perhaps nosy. They asked too much about Komura’s wife, and a lot of other personal question which in my opinion, should not be asked when meeting for the first time. It got awkward, and tense when after going to a hotel, Keiko left, leaving Shimao and Komura . I felt like the story was incomplete as the author didn’t finalize what happened with some characters. It was my least favorite.
“Super-frog Saves Tokyo” is my favorite story. Here, Mr. katagiri comes to his apartment one evening, and what does he find? A huge ass frog wiring for him outside. This is strange. What is a frog doing outside his apartment? It even gets stranger as the frog starts speaking. The frog is polite. He says he’s not there to hurt him and even welcomes him. Once inside, the frog pours green tea for him.
Katagiri’s first meeting with the frog spelt nothing but shock and confusion. This however dies away as the frog explains the purpose of his visit. The frog wants Mr. Katagiri to help him save Tokyo from a destruction. Another earthquake is set to hit the city, and the frog feels like it’s his duty to stop the quake. He explains that all Mr. Katagiri has to do is support and cheer him as he fights the worm. The worm, the villain in the story is what will cause the quake. The frog is my hero in this story. He is courageous, caring, kind and courteous.
Other stories are as interesting as the two above. There’s a lesson as one completes all stories. This is my first Murakami book, and if I were to recommend it, I’d say it has one of the best stories ever. Though all of the stories had almost similar themes, the reader can find unique twists in each tale which makes it interesting. With such an amazing writing style, I’d give this book four out of five stars. I’ll definitely be looking for more Haruki Murakami’s books.