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After the Quake: Stories Paperback – May 13, 2003
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“Ushers the reader into a hallucinatory world where the real and surreal merge and overlap, where dreams and real-life nightmares are impossible to tell apart.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“His characters are so persuasive, and the storytelling so spacious. . . . Murakami’s crisp, accomplished stories in After the Quake have great immediacy.” —The Seattle Times
“One of the great Japanese exports.” —Details
“Unexpectedly powerful. . . . Moving.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Both mysterious and somehow quite familiar.” –Alan Cheuse, San Francisco Chronicle
“In these stories . . . Murakami proves himself to be almost as fantastic–and as heroic–as his creations.” –Elle
“Trim, beautiful, diamond sharp, and profoundly layered in . . . mystical symbolism and daily absurdities. Murakami’s evocations of grace and possible redemption are startling, dangerous, and moving.” –O, The Oprah Magazine
“Haruki Murakami remains one of the most accessible Japanese writers for Western readers.” –LA Times
“Spare yet richly mysterious and emotionally prismatic, these unpredictable tales explore the subtle ways the earthquake affected those who live far from its epicenter yet who are nonetheless shaken to their very core. . . .Haunting.” –Booklist (starred review)
“Murakami has written a series of deeply evocative stories.” –Tulsa Today
“The stories here are well-crafted and lyrical . . . They are sometimes absurd, sometimes quite funny, but they all have real epiphanies and real moments of feeling.” –Rocky Mountain News
From the Inside Flap
ies in Haruki Murakamis mesmerizing collection are set at the time of the catastrophic 1995 Kobe earthquake, when Japan became brutally aware of the fragility of its daily existence. But the upheavals that afflict Murakamis characters are even deeper and more mysterious, emanating from a place where the human meets the inhuman.
An electronics salesman who has been abruptly deserted by his wife agrees to deliver an enigmatic packageand is rewarded with a glimpse of his true nature. A man who has been raised to view himself as the son of God pursues a stranger who may or may not be his human father. A mild-mannered collection agent receives a visit from a giant talking frog who enlists his help in saving Tokyo from destruction. As haunting as dreams, as potent as oracles, the stories in After the Quake are further proof that Murakami is one of the most visionary writers at work today.
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There are six stories altogether, each one of them set after the Kobe Earthquake of 1995. I’ve listed them below in the order of my most to least favorite:
1) Superfrog Saves Tokyo
2) All God’s Children Can Dance
5) UFO in Kushiro
6) Landscape with Flatiron
If you’re looking to get a firsthand account of the natural disaster that claimed the lives of thousands: look elsewhere. Nearly all the characters are tangentially related; their experiences secondhand.
Even so, the fallout affects them in subtle and surprising ways, mirroring the small tremors or “after quakes” that often happen after an earthquake of that magnitude — its seismic activity was, at one point, officially measured at the highest intensity (Level 7) against the scale by the JMA (Japanese Meteorological Agency).
Still, all six stories bear all the hallmarks of Murakami’s style: clean prose, sparing detail and surreal flourish.
At the end of the day, After the Quake is a deeply meditative piece on how we cope with disaster. Murakami paints, with broad and economical strokes, the psychological repercussions of the choices we make as we wait for the dust to settle.
For the most part, Murakami abandons his surrealistic ways and keeps the stories grounded in reality, with only a hint or two of unexplained weirdness (a Murakami trademark). The main exception is "Super Frog Saves Tokyo", a story about a man who comes home from work to find a giant frog in his kitchen requesting help to save Tokyo from the Worm. Apart from this, the remaining stories occupy a Japan as normal as anything Murakami has written about, portraying the unsettled consciousness of a nation dealing with a disaster of historical proportions.
"After the Quick" may be Murakami at his simplest, but it is also Murakami at his best.
How do you manage to make me fall in love head over heels with your writing, time after time after time?
I know that, in all probability, your biggest critique is that you keep on playing around the same themes, which have, by now, become all a bit of a cliche` and i have to admit that even i found a bit of repetition in certain themes in the first story.
You had me doubt, even if for a fraction of a second, that maybe - maybe - the spell was broken. That your magic powers were no longer strong as they used to be, on me. That maybe - maybe - i read a bit too much Murakami to keep being swept away in complete awe by your words...but then, you did it, once again, just as powerful as ever.
Thank you for giving me, once again, one of the best reading experiences ever <3