After the Quake

ISBN 13: 9780099452058

After the Quake

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9780099452058: After the Quake

In 1995, the physical and social landscape of Japan was transformed by two events: the Kobe earthquake, in January, which destroyed thousands of lives, and the poison-gas attacks in the Tokyo subways in March, during the morning rush hour. Following these twin disasters, Haruki Murakami abandoned his life abroad and returned home to confront his country’s grief. The subway attack led to his recent Underground. And out of the quake come these six stories, set in the months between natural catastrophe and man-made terrorism. His characters find their resolutely normal everyday lives undone by events even more surreal (yet somehow believable) than we have come to expect in his fiction.

An electronics salesman, abruptly deserted by his wife, is entrusted to deliver a mysterious package but gets more than he bargained for at the receiving end; a Thai chauffeur takes his troubled charge to a seer, who penetrates her deepest sorrow; and, in the unforgettable title story, a boy acknowledges a shattering secret about his past that will change his life forever.

But the most compelling character of all is the earthquake itself—slipping into and out of view almost imperceptibly, but nonetheless reaching deep into the lives of these forlorn citizens of the apocalypse. The terrible damage visible all around is, in fact, less extreme than the inconsolable howl of a nation indelibly scarred—an experience in which Murakami discovers many truths about compassion, courage, and the nature of human suffering.

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Review:

Murakami's storytelling inspires intimacy. It's the particular kind of intimacy that can evolve between a reader and a book, unspoken and unexpected, familiar, satisfying, strange. --JANE MENDELSOHN, Village Voice

Western critics searching for parallels have variously likened him to Raymond Carver, Raymond Chandler, Arthur C. Clarke, Don DeLillo, Philip K. Dick, Bret Easton Ellis and Thomas Pynchon - a roster so ill assorted as to suggest that Murakami may in fact be an original. --JAMIE JAMES, New York Times

The menacing little seismographic printout on the translucent dustjacket of this stylishly produced book says it all. This short collection of six stories - few of them taking more than 15 minutes to read - take their origin from the devastating earthquake that hit Kobe in Japan not long ago. None of the stories in this collection are directly connected with the disaster, though all of them are touched by it in one way or another. Each is set in its own odd little world. The opening story deals with an unhappily divorced man who goes on an enforced holiday only to develop sexual problems due to a mysterious wooden cube in his airplane luggage. Then there follows a short tale about a disaffected family man who likes to build bonfires on the beach at midnight. Best of all is the story of Mr Katagiri, who comes home one evening to find a giant frog in his apartment, intent upon having the poor chap help him save all Tokyo from disaster by burrowing down into the earth and confronting an immense and angry worm. Murakami is a world-renowned writer, a master of alienated characters in a disturbing world. --Kirkus UK

Book Description:

A cult writer who reaches a wide readership - the new collection of stories all set around the Kobe earthquake by one of the acknowledged masters of this art. (2003-03-03)

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