After losing my mind over What They Do In The Dark, I am happy to say that After Dark did not lead me doubting myself as a reader, but reinforced my love for reading. This is the first Haruki Murakami novel I have read, and it certainly won’t be my last. I can’t believe the beauty I’ve been missing.
Midnight is approaching, and while the peak of activity has passed, the basal metabolism that maintains life continues undiminished, producing the basso continuo of the city’s moan, a monotonous sound that neither rises nor falls but is pregnant with foreboding.
If this translation from the Japanese was altered in any way, I don’t think I would be able to handle reading the original. How powerful, for example, is the above sentence?! Time, physiology, audio, action, life; it made for an irresistible first page, and threw me into an irresistible novel. Eri and Mari, sisters, are who we look down upon from our view alongside the narrator, directing us as though we were on a movie set or theater stage. After maybe just two or three chapters, I have decided this is my favorite type of narration. This could be because I have the most trouble describing a scene or setting in my own writing, and this device is a simple concept, but Haruki Murakami makes it feel as though it’s the way it should always be done.
The novel spans one night, from midnight (or just before) up to 7:00 AM. Small moments, life-changing moments, and surreal moments share the same timeline in the same geographic area, and are described exquisitely; not in an exquisitely flashy way, but in an exquisitely real way.
Humanity isn’t challenged in this novel, but explored. The reader’s observational perspective is a reminder of the fictional form in front of them, all the while serving as a probe into morality, love, relationships, and even the supernatural. What does it mean to be disconnected? Connected? Alone? Defensive? Compassionate? Human?
This novel is perfect for you if you want an eerie story, a book to read this afternoon, another reason to love language and writing, need to feel human, or really perfect for any reason at all.
Such places open secret entries into darkness in the interval between midnight and the time the sky grows light. None of our principles have any effect there. No one can predict when or where such abysses will swallow people, or when or where they will spit them out.
Recommendations for my next Haruki Murakami novel? Share your favorites below in the comments, and read After Dark if you haven’t already.