- Use promo code PRIMEBOOKS18 to save $5.00 when you spend $20.00 or more on Books offered by Amazon.com. Enter code PRIMEBOOKS18 at checkout. Here's how (restrictions apply)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
South of the Border, West of the Sun: A Novel Paperback – March 14, 2000
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Special offers and product promotions
“A wise and beautiful book.” –The New York Times Book Review
“A probing meditation on human fragility, the grip of obsession, and the impenetrable, erotically charged enigma that is the other.” –The New York Times
“Brilliant. . . . A mesmerizing new example of Murakami’s deeply original fiction.” –The Baltimore Sun
“Lovely, deceptively simple. . . . A novel of existential romance.” –San Francisco Chronicle
“His most deeply moving novel.” –The Boston Globe
“Mesmerizing. . . . This is a harrowing, a disturbing, a hauntingly brilliant tale.” –The Baltimore Sun
“A fine, almost delicate book about what is unfathomable about us.” –The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Portrayed in a fluid language that veers from the vernacular . . . to the surprisingly poetic.” –San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle
“Haunting and natural. . . . South of the Border, West of the Sun so smoothly shifts the reader from mundane concerns into latent madness as to challenge one’s faith in the material world . . . contains passages that are among his finest.” –The New York Observer
“Haruki Murakami applies his patented Japanese magic realism–minimalist, smooth and transcendently odd–to a charming tale of childhood love lost.” –New York
From the Inside Flap
In South of the Border, West of the Sun, the simple arc of a man's life--with its attendant rhythms of success and disappointment--becomes the exquisite literary terrain of Haruki Murakami's most haunting work.
Born in 1951 in an affluent Tokyo suburb, Hajime--"beginning in Japanese--has arrived at middle age wanting for almost nothing. The postwar years have brought him a fine marriage, two daughters, and an enviable career as the proprietor of two jazz clubs. Yet a nagging sense of inauthenticity about his success threatens Hajime's happiness. And a boyhood memory of a wise, lonely girl named Shimamoto clouds his heart.
When Shimamoto shows up one rainy night, now a breathtaking beauty with a secret from which she is unable to escape, the fault lines of doubt in Hajime's quotidian existence begin to give way. And the details of stolen moments past and present--a Nat King Cole melody, a face pressed against a window, a handful of ashes drifting downriver to the sea--threaten to undo him completely. Rich, mysterious, quietly dazzling, South of the Border, West of the Sun is Haruki Murakami's wisest and most compelling fiction.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The narrator and central character of Norwegian Wood, Toru Watanabe is a relatively impecunious collage freshman in a lessor Japanese collage. He is socially withdrawn and emotionally uncertain. He was the last person to see his very close childhood friend before the friend committed suicide and through him he has a very close feeling for his late friend’s girlfriend Naoko. They are both survivors of the suicide and both having to understand who they are absent this person who had been their common center.
Much of this 400 page novel is about Watananbe trying to understand who he is and how he best fits into the lager world after leaving home. This world is the Japan of the 1960’s where student can take over the campus and politics as much as money influence your social standing. He is has a powerful bond with Naoko and will become deeply involved with a stronger, elusive female college classmate Midori. Watanabe is alternately a good person, instantly able to, for example, identify with and bond with Midori’s dying father. He is just as capable of using his socially adept and well healed collage chum to cruise the bars to pick up and sleep with random faceless women. He does not like any of his male classmates and he has a particular distaste for the man he uses for a variety of favors.
Most of Norwegian Wood is about how Wanatabe alternately indulges and pushes himself while allowing events and people to flow around him. He is capable of being very gentle and understanding. Or he is being passive and accepting. One expects that he would make a very good psychotherapist, or at least a counselor of some type. For all this the word I kept associating with him was ‘Passive”.
I have to agree with other reviewers who feel this book has been padded out. It may be that in the original, many of the overly detailed descriptive passages are lyrical, but too often I found them a needless demand on my time. Murakami can set a mood and bring you into people’s minds but at this point he is not always sure why he brought you there.
Norwegian Wood s early Murakami. It is not his best. He will keep many themes and backgrounds in later works. I liked this book, even if at times, I wanted Watanabe to take a stand, to take charge and for the writer to speed things up.
Murakami composes prose with the deceptively simple, but flowing elegance of a master songwriter. (A note of praise must be given to Murakami’s English translator, Jay Rubin.) Murakami has captured the era with the accuracy of one who lived through it—something he did. The dialogue has all the deftness of Hemingway’s. The characters are complex, breathing beings that transcend the written page. Most importantly, Murakami unwinds the tale in a manner that makes it impossible to stop reading.
At times laugh out loud funny, at times heart wrenching, at times erotic (though never sleazy), Norwegian Wood is the author at his best. My only regret—and it was a big one—was that the story ended and I could no longer spend time in this captivating world.
Unusual in many of Murakami’s work the narrator and main character has a name, Hajima. In Japanese the word means Beginning. Hajima begins as something unusual in his generation an only child. We are told that that only children were expected to be self-centered and worse. Growing up he will resist and resent being typecast but he will also tend to behave according to the stereotype.
Along the way he will make many of the same mistakes of children and young men, but he will be haunted by them. In he will come into contact with two particular girls and mishandle himself, causing hurt in obvious, avoidable ways.
Having introduced himself and his history to the reader we resume with Hajima in early middle age, married, with children and in possession of two successful bars. Of material things his life is more than comfortable. He loves his wife and has the benefit of a rich and friendly father-in-law.
He is burdened with his past and not sure that what he has is to quote the song “all there is”.
The balance of this short novel, 212 pages in my edition is Hajima determining the answer to this question.
Murakami men are often on some kind of self–discovery quest and always with one or more women helping him. In this case there is, or may not be a woman in blue, from his past who visits (haunts?) him and forces the confrontation that will end this quest.
Reading Murakami in order has help me to appreciate the growth in the quality of the author’s story telling. South, West is direct with just enough embellishment. He uses, as he has, cultural references to western classical music and jazz. His world is material but with a deeper need for emotional and spiritual understanding. Given the importance of the female role in this book, women are not fully formed, but they display many personalities and degrees of strengths.