After Dark by Haruki Murakami

This book proves me right when I say Murakami is one hell of a writer. The whole book takes place in the after-hours when most ‘normal’ people are asleep, and some restless souls are out discovering means to stay occupied. The premise of Tokyo, as written by Murakami gives you a dark noir feel even though you cannot see the place and are only reading about it.

After dark is in some ways different than Murakami’s novels considering Murakami usually has a light touch to all his stories. In other ways, it falls right under his arena because of the mysticism and magical realism. The version of the night in the Tokyo city that Murakami shows us matches up to a much darker and scarier version of the real Tokyo as if the place exists in a parallel world.

After Dark by Haruki Murakami
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Forgive the pun… are you reading after dark?  you might need a book light .

Tokyo Noir

The plot is simple, and there isn’t much that happens in the book if you read it from a plot-driven reader’s perspective. The key to reading Murakami is to sit back and enjoy it as it happens. Like watching clouds pass by. There is not much action, and yet the book passes by in quite an engaging manner. I felt this book to be entirely different from ‘South of the Border, West of the Sun” and other of Murakami’s works. The atmosphere is the same. The cafes, Tokyo life, jazz music, and wonderfully unique characters. However, there was something special about how the story moved. I was enjoying the book one line at a time, savoring all the words.

Relatability with Unknown Entities

I felt like the unknown entity that watched Eri Alsa, as if I, as a reader, was another intruder watching the lives of these characters without interfering. From the beginning, the story had me intrigued with the descriptions of Mari and then her conversation with the man that plays the jazz trombone. The talks, though quite casual give you a sense of intimacy and the reader feels like voyeur invading the privacy of the characters that exist just on paper.

When you are reading Murakami, you become a different person entirely, and after the novel is finished, you go back to being yourself. However, what left you and what comes back is never wholly same.

Too many books for your bookshelf? You may need an  e-reader .

A Comfort Read that Makes You Uncomfortable

Things only got weirder and better as the book progressed. By the end, there were too many unresolved issues, and yet the book left a memorable impression on my mind.

This is the sort of book you can revisit on a lonely day to be comforted since there is comfort in the unsettling lives of these characters. Plus, the magic spell Murakami’s words cast doesn’t fade away. So, while the story and the entire experience of reading this book might make you uncomfortable because of the unique way it has been written, you can read it as one of the lighter reads between books that require too much focus and attention.

Words and the World

Those surreal words filled with darkness and melancholia felt like a home to me. It isn’t a story that Murakami tells through this book, just events of one night that take us from a cafe to a love hotel and a company office. Also, yet within the time frame of that one night, a lot happens.

Given the size of the book, it felt like Murakami had compressed an entire world into a few words and a whole story in just one night. After I finished the book, I felt like the actor in one of Murakami’s stories. Like I was endlessly roaming around the streets of Tokyo reminiscing about my memories while seeing others live their lives.

Murakami is known to write extensively and is blessed with the ability to express a lot in just a few words. In this book though, a contradiction is seen whereby, on the one hand, he has written extensively about the events of one night and made an entire book out of it. However, when you look at it with a different perspective, you wonder about how he was able to fit in so much action and an entire story in just one small book and one night.

Emotional Appeal

Additionally, since the events of this novel take place at night, we see the raw and real emotions of our characters that are often hidden during the day because nights tend to make us vulnerable. The real-time for introspection and unfiltered thoughts to come out. Coincidentally, I read this book during night time while listening to jazz music as suggested in the book itself.

I found this particular thing about After Dark and many other Murakami books. He engages the reader into the bookish world by relating him to the actual world. He brings out the hidden parts of his characters so the readers can look at them and self-introspect. It is impossible to talk about any of Murakami’s books without mentioning the feel of it. His books are felt more than they are read.

What is this Book About?

The book records the events of a strange night where three different characters experience three weird phenomena. Throughout the book, one wonders how the story will be connected, only to find out that the story is limited to just one night and does not go beyond it. Mari, her sister, and a young musician are the main characters, linked with each other through strange circumstances.

You will have to read the book yourself to find out more but one this is for sure, you will be thoroughly entertained once you finish it.

FAQ – After Dark Book Review

Q: What genre is After Dark by Haruki Murakami?

A: The book After Dark is a Fantasy book, sub genre Magical Realism.

Q: Who is Haruki Murakami?

A: 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 international honors is the Jerusalem Prize, whose previous recipients include J. M. Coetzee, Milan Kundera, and V. S. Naipaul.

Q: Where can I buy After Dark?

A: You can purchase the book After Dark from Amazon by clicking this link.

About the Author

Pallavi Sareen is an avid reader, a harsh critic, bibliophile, and a dreamer. Accustomed to telling stories, she spends her time amidst the pages of either a book or her diary.

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