The first Murakami I have read, this novel certainly lives up to the erratic and strange nature of the authors reputation. Running on a theme of finitely detailed cognitive function, the novel follows two different narratives from its start. In one, the protagonist finds himself caught in a fast paced turmoil of company corruption undergoing a data war. In this Murakami interlaces the fictional and strange alongside reality, creating fast paced action in an imaginative narrative.
In stark contrast the other follows a protagonist caught in a dream-like town, confused as to a beginning or an end. It is in these narratives that the story earns the strange title Murakami has leant it.
Though at first quite confusing, the novel gradually reveals more and more of each of the narratives, masterfully drawing various puzzle peices together. The quirky, lustful, and ultimately human nature of the key protagonist in the face of numerous unlikely dangers likewise makes for an enjoyable read. Whilst the mysterious plot forms together, the reader is left constantly questioning what will occur next, and how.
The novel also tackles some key societal considerations concerning life: both how we live it and what we expect from it. By not giving any character a specific name, Murakami makes each in its own way a potentially relatable character. The matter-of-fact protagonist, the librarian, the old man, the gatekeeper, each in their own way reflect an entire, much broader group, whilst simultaneously being entirely individual. It is indeed through the protagonist’s eyes that each of these characters takes shape; his logical, sober thought process creating honest accounts of each.
Overall a very interesting read, one which I was keen to continue to unwind the curious mystery of the plot. One thing I am sure of, another Murakami novel will soon be in my hands again!
Length: 416 (Vintage)
Overall Rating: 4 stars
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