It is 2:46 AM. A cup of warm coffee in one hand and the other wandering over the keyboard of my computer, trying to find the constellation of letters that would coherently describe my love for after dark. I believe that there are a few books in the world that have the ability to make you believe in magic. There are only a few books in the world that make you convinced that the author, whom you have never before met in your entire life, tailored the story keeping your interests in mind. After Dark by Haruki Murakami was that book for me.
“…the city looks like a single gigantic creature – or more like a single collective entity created by many intertwining organisms. Countless arteries stretch to the ends of its elusive body…to the rhythm of its pulsing, all parts of the body flicker and flare up and squirm. Midnight is approaching, and while the peak of activity has passed, the basal metabolism that maintains life continues undiminished”
From the very start, we acquire a god’s view on a set of loosely related characters as they make their way through the night in the quiet murmur of Tokyo. You get the feeling of peeping into their lives, in secret. Knowing more than the characters themselves about what’s going on, objects acting as portals, mirrors where reflections linger a little longer and the point of intersections between stories, visible only to us. We follow Young Mari, reading inside a small restaurant because she can’t sleep and refuses to go home. The plot takes course when she is interrupted by a man who used to be friends with Mari’s elder sister, Eri Asai. And from there it’s a strange journey, a bit of mystery and paranoia lurking in the background with us. The interesting thing about Murakami’s characters is that all of them carry a baggage, a darkness to them that is not necessarily hostile but complex and tender.
Murakami engages in a writing style that is abstract and introspective, one which forces the reader the feel a certain sense of longing and nostalgia, for perhaps something inconceivable. It might even take the form of existential crisis. What a lot of his fans refer to as the Murakami Itch. Magic realism, being a part of After dark, serves the purpose of highlighting and exemplifying metaphors and meanings throughout the book. Strangely, nothing feels out of place despite its fantastical elements. Everything connects in a way that is not apparent to the reader until the very end, some questions however, remain unanswered. That’s the beauty of it, I think.
“No one answers our questions. Our question marks are sucked, unresisting, into the final darkness and uncompromising silence of the night.“
If you are someone who prefers a plot based, fast paced story, where everything is settled at the end, after dark is not for you. If you’re looking for a thrill but not an experience, after dark is not for you. After dark is dreaming. After dark is parting at dawn after conversing with a lover the whole night. It is waking up at 3 am to quench your thirst with a glass of water. It is all nameless, quite, strange and underrated moments. And It is for everyone and anyone who worships the night.
Hey guys, what’s up? Long time no see here. What are you all reading these days? Let me know and we can have a chat. Make sure to leave your recent bookish posts below, I would love to check them out. And oh, I’m definitely converted to a Murakami Fan now. Suggest me more works of his if you’ve read any! – Mucho amor, Anushka.