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After the Quake: Stories (Vintage International) Paperback – 13 May 2003
|Paperback, 13 May 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
“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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This book is a collection of six short stories. All stories are dated post the devastating Kobe earthquake of 1995 in Japan.None of the protagonists in any of the stories suffer from any loss in this earthquake. Yet this disaster jostles their life like the aftershocks of the earthquake. The first story is UFO in Kushiro. It follows the story of Komura who like most of Murakami’s male protagonist leads a mundane listless life. His wife is glued to the television for days watching news about the Kobe earthquake. This affects her to the degree that she divorces Komura as she feels that he is empty as a person. Still, Komura does not seem much affected and travels to Hokkaido. It is there he realises the void that is present in him.
The second story is Landscape with Flatrion. This follows the story of Junko and Miyake. Miyake is passionate about bonfires and is scared of the refrigerator. He dreams that the refrigerator will engulf him and he will die a slow suffocating death. Junko sees a deep calm and peace in the bonfire and as the fire dwindles she realises that she is empty as a person. This greatly perturbs her and they both feel that they could die together.
All God’s children can dance follows the story of Yoshiya. He had a single mother who posts her dark teenage years becomes a staunch believer of God. She tells Yoshiya that he is the son of God. His mother had told him of a doctor whose ear lobes were bitten off by a dog. He believes this person is his father and on encountering such a person one day he starts following him. At last, he has a vision where he again resorts to God.
The fourth story is Thailand. This follows the story of Satsuki, who has separated from her husband. Her husband resides in Kobe and Satsuki wishes that he should have died in the earthquake. Her chauffeur Nimit takes her to an old lady, healer of souls who tells her that she has a stone inside her. This stone will kill her and she has to let the snake who will come in her dream engulf this stone.
Super frog saves Tokyo is the story where a giant six-foot frog visits Katagiri and informs him that a big earthquake is going to take place in Tokyo. The frog needs the help of Katagiri to stop this earthquake and they need to fight with the worm. Here too Katagiri is a simple decent guy who neither gets appreciation and is alone.
The last story is Honey pie. This is the classic story of unrequited love. It follows the story of three friends Junpei, Sayoko and Takatsuki. Junpei loves Sayoko but is unable to express it, in the meanwhile Takatsuki who is more aggressive proposes Sayoko. Junpei is devastated but he masks his feeling. Takatuski and Sayoko get married and have a daughter named Sala. Junpei is still close to them. Opportunity to express his love again comes for Junpei as Sayoko and Takatsuki separate ways but Junpei still is not able to express his feelings. The earthquake jostles him and gives him the courage to pursue his love.
If anyone wants to get introduced to the books of Murakami I feel that this book will be a great start to it. It has all the elements that Murakami largely uses. The characters are similar to the ones that he uses across his novels. This is a great book and like most books of Murakami it is one which demands your unwavering attention to realize the true pearls of beauty in it.
You might finish this in a go.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
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