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After Dark (Vintage International) Paperback – April 29, 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 188 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Murakami's 12th work of fiction is darkly entertaining and more novella than novel. Taking place over seven hours of a Tokyo night, it intercuts three loosely related stories, linked by Murakami's signature magical-realist absurd coincidences. When amateur trombonist and soon-to-be law student Tetsuya Takahashi walks into a late-night Denny's, he espies Mari Asai, 19, sitting by herself, and proceeds to talk himself back into her acquaintance. Tetsuya was once interested in plain Mari's gorgeous older sister, Eri, whom he courted, sort of, two summers previously. Murakami then cuts to Eri, asleep in what turns out to be some sort of menacing netherworld. Tetsuya leaves for overnight band practice, but soon a large, 30ish woman, Kaoru, comes into Denny's asking for Mari: Mari speaks Chinese, and Kaoru needs to speak to the Chinese prostitute who has just been badly beaten up in the nearby "love hotel" Kaoru manages. Murakami's omniscient looks at the lives of the sleeping Eri and the prostitute's assailant, a salaryman named Shirakawa, are sheer padding, but the probing, wonderfully improvisational dialogues Mari has with Tetsuya, Kaoru and a hotel worker named Korogi sustain the book until the ambiguous, mostly upbeat dénouement. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Other than an unexpected cheerfulness, After Dark is classic Haruki Murakami, featuring themes of loneliness and alienation, carefully crafted characters, Western references (such as an all-night Denny's where Hall & Oates plays in the background), and distinctive magical-realist twists of fate. Critics also praised the impassive, omniscient narration, like a constantly shifting video camera, which renders each scene in magnificent detail. The chief complaint was the brevity of the novel, and the Los Angeles Times felt that Eri's dreamlike scenes missed the mark as well. "For the unfamiliar, it's the perfect appetizer. For the established fan, it's a quick work that is over far too soon" (Denver Post).

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Product Details

  • Series: Vintage International
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307278735
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307278739
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (188 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
What a weird, beguiling little book. You just sort of float around while this Altman-esque point of view shifts back and forth between a little ensemble of strange, endeeringly damaged people. Murakami's narration is what really makes this work so well, the voice he uses is almost mesmerizing at times. The whole thing is just suffused with this jazzy, hypnotic stlye that occasionally veers into something darker, something more primevally resonant. If William Gibson and David Lynch wrote a book together while listening to Kind of Blue, they would probably have come up with something like this. What does happen out there in the world after dark? What indeed.
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Format: Hardcover
As much as it pains me to say this, After Dark is by far my least favorite Murakami novel. Murakami had already begun to experiment with his style in Kafka on the Shore, but After Dark is clearly a large leap in a new direction. Unfortunately, I can't say this first effort is successful. The story is cryptic as expected but for a Murakami novel the pace and writing is oddly flat. Unlike works like Wind-Up Bird and Hard-boiled Wonderland, I just was not able to care enough to fully immerse myself in this book. In some ways this story just felt like a bit of a private experiment of sorts, where Murakami spent more time focusing on technical issues (perspective in particular) rather than developing the story. In the end, as an old Murakami hand, I can't give this story more than 3 stars based on the high quality of his other works.

Where Murakami will go next is a bit of a mystery. The final five stories in Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman were written after After Dark and bear more of a similarity to his earlier style than they do to this novel. Will he return to a brand of the mystic realism that has made him popular both in Japan and abroad, or will he continue the difficult process of reinventing himself? I hope Murakami has not run out of steam, but if After Dark is a sign of things to come then I'm afraid the period from the mid-80s through the mid-90s will be remembered as Murakami's halcyon days. His next work will be the key--as a fan of his work, I hope that my pessimism is unfounded and his next novel is a return to the greatness he is capable of. Personally, I look forward to reading other reviews of this book (as well as feedback on my own) to see what other readers think ... I have a feeling opinions will be divided.
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Format: Paperback
I was led to this book by a bit of serendipity doo dah after rereading The Great Gatsby. I googled Great Gatsby for my book review and came up with Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. It seems the protagonist of Murakami's novel was a fan of F. Scott's book, and he reread it several times, and because of it forged a pivotal friendship with a rich and popular frat boy. In further discussions of Gatsby I brought up Norwegian Wood and heard more praise for Haruki's prose. Next Norwegian Wood was in the news as it was being banned at yet another High School. I quickly went to the library to see if they had it, but the only available title by Haruki Murakami was After Dark.

I was captivated by it from the start. It kind of veers between experimental novel and hyper-realism. The experimental novel parts are where the point of view is described as an actual camera, hovering over the action, zooming in and out, observing the scene, and also observing the first law of time travel: do not intervene in the events unfolding. Televisions that aren't plugged in nevertheless flicker in and out, showing further unexplained scenes of a faceless man watching. There is a Sleeping Beauty, we gradually learn that she is named Eri Asai, and she has been asleep for a very long time, yet she is not in a coma. This concerns her sister, Mari Asai, who is studying in a Denny's restaurant in an effort to escape the oppressive atmosphere of waiting for when, if ever, her sister will awaken from her slumbers.

The parts of the novel involving younger sister Mari are the hyper-realistic ones. It seems you couldn't pick a more mundane subject, a night studying in a family restaurant chain, yet there is something about the way Murakami describes it that is fascinating.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The latest from Haruki Murakami, "After Dark" is more meditation than novel. And yet that floating sensation I got when I read the best of Murakami, "Windup Bird Chronicle", "Kafka on the Shore," didn't happen for me with "After Dark."

One character never awakes and her sister never sleeps. The plot, such as there is one, revolves around a brutal midnight attack on a girl by a john at a love motel.

One of the characters says, "It used to be after the sun set, people would just crawl in their caves and protect themselves. Our internal clocks are still set for us to sleep after the sun goes down." "After Dark" is about how we resist this biological imperative and how that resistance messes with our heads.

I'm a huge Murakami fan and I admire what he does here. Yes, it has some of the usual touches; alienated youth, the pop culture references and weird points of view. But there is very little of his trademark magical realism or narrative development in "After Dark." So while I liked "After Dark" and respect Murakami's willingness to venture into new territory, I can't recommend a newcomer to his work to start here.
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