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Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: A Novel (Vintage International) Paperback – March 2, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Murakami's lightning prose more than sustains the elaborate plot of this thriller, set in a Tokyo of the near future.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The last surviving victim of an experiment that implanted the subjects' heads with electrodes that decipher coded messages is the unnamed narrator of this excellent book by Murakami, one of Japan's best-selling novelists and winner of the prestigious Tanizaki prize. Half the chapters are set in Tokyo, where the narrator negotiates underground worlds populated by INKlings, dodges opponents of both sides of a raging high-tech infowar, and engages in an affair with a beautiful librarian with a gargantuan appetite. In alternating chapters he tries to reunite with his mind and his shadow, from which he has been severed by the grim, dark "replacement" consciousness implanted in him by a dotty neurophysiologist. Both worlds share the unearthly theme of unicorn skulls that moan and glow. Murakami's fast-paced style, full of hip internationalism, slangy allegory, and intrigue, has been adroitly translated. Murakami is also author of A Wild Sheep Chase ( LJ 10/15/89); his new work is recommended for academic libraries and public libraries emphasizing serious contemporary fiction.
- D.E. Perushek, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (March 2, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679743464
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679743460
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (344 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,153 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

166 of 172 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
I purchased this book on a whim - the descriptions sounded interesting enough to merit a look.
Boy was I stunned by it. One of the best books I've read in a long time and probably one of the best novels I've read that's been written in the last 20 years.
Beautifully written (and translated) it spoke to many different sides of me. The novel brilliantly fuses a number of different cultural genres (science fiction, mystery, film noir, fantasy, magical realism, "cyberpunk") into a mix that, amazingly, works very well. Try to imagine a collaborative effort by Garcia-Marquez, William Gibson, and Walker Percy and you almost might be able to envision what this book feels like to read. Who else but a Japanese author could make such an intriguing pop culture cocktail?
Besides being a genre-bender, the premise of the book and the questions that it raises concerning the relationship between humanity and technology, the soul and the mind, and the individual and society are quite thought provoking.
Did I mention that the book is very funny at times too?
This is unlike any other book you'll ever read. Definitely worth checking out IMHO.
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81 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Sesho on December 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World follows two distinct and parallel storylines, both with unnamed narrators who might or might not be the same person. In the first storyline, the narrator is a "Calcutec", a computer specialist working for "The System" to protect data against the "Semiotecs", an organization of powerful black market information pirates. Called down into the sewers below Tokyo against regulations and against the law, the main character agrees to "shuffle", or encode the work of a nutty professor who says he has discovered a way to make bones talk! His life might be in danger though because all the major powers want a piece of this new technology. This plotline alternates chapters with a more fantasy type idyll about a town surrounded by an impenetrable and unscalable wall, in which the narrator tries to figure out who he is and how he came there. There are other inhabitants but all their comments are pretty cryptic. But there's some bizarre stuff going on. For example, there are unicorns grazing around the town, you lose your shadow, and the narrator is given the job of "reading dreams" from the skulls of strange beasts! He must set about figuring out how to escape unless he wants to be trapped there forever.

This novel was weird but refreshing. I thought it was pretty clever of Murakami to almost write two books in one, the first being a cyberpunk adventure and the other a strange surreal fantasy. But it worked. Don't worry, these two stories within a novel do have a purpose in being joined together, even though you might not understand all the "physics" talk when explanations are given. You get the gist of it. Harold Bloom once said that what gives a novel its lasting greatness is that it has to be strange.
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73 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Bibliophile on February 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is simply the best book I have ever read! I was hooked from the first page and drawn into the world of the narrator as subtly as one is drawn into a dream. The linking of the subconscious and conscious elements of the mind are at work here, and this is what makes this book all at once so wonderful, disturbing and enlightening. It is a psychological masterpiece and lays bare the interconnectedness of all things- the people in our lives, the places, the choices we make, our dreams, desires, longings and regrets and most importantly, the often inexplicable and enigmatic relationship between our subconscious and conscious mind. The masterful way Murakami interweaves the chapters begins with a divergent simplicity and gradually progresses to a complex, synchronistic web/mandala in which all points share a beginning yet have no end.
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
At some point along the way on your journey through "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World"--in my case, not until I had read the last page and closed the book--it may occur to you, Why, this isn't a modernistic, subversive, radical treatise on the ravages of contemporary society and the havoc that technology has wreaked on us, it's just an old-fashioned book about aging! The two halves of the book--"Hard-Boiled Wonderland" and "The End of the World"--represent, to my mind, youth and adulthood, respectively, and the protagonist--as well as the author--appear to find themselves poised in thirtysomething limbo, trying to decide what they want their lives to be like from hereon out. "Hard-Boiled Wonderland" certainly seems to be the more fun of the two worlds--exotic women, delicious food, cool cars, high-paced city living, and infinite possibilities for what career to choose, which woman to settle down with, and what town to live in. But Wonderland is certainly more dangerous--all that high-tech mafia business, gruesome violence, flesh-eating monsters, broken-into apartments, splitting headaches, and hangovers from those crazy nights drowning your confusion in whiskey. It's enough to make a thirtysomething guy long for a little peace and comfort. That's where "The End of the World" comes in. End of the World is everything Wonderland is not: one monogamous partner, gruel for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, no mode of transportation other than your own two feet, and nothing more exciting to do than stare off at the mountains or the smoke stack from the Power Plant or wait for the herd of beasts to come trampling through the town every evening.Read more ›
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Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: A Novel (Vintage International)
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