Dark, inter-twined narratives compose this epic from Murakami. The tale is of a normal man, nick named Mr Wind-Up Bird by a local girl, whose life takes a turn for the surreal when his cat goes missing, followed shortly thereafter by his wife, and the rest of his life as he knew it. From there Mr Wind-Up Bird keeps uses his faith in bringing his wife back to keep himself moving on, and in the process finds many other people to help, although never in any straightforward manner. Although sometimes slower in pace than his other books, Murakami keeps the plot moving forward while introducing other elements, somewhat akin to David Lynch without the damn fine coffee. A great book, although perhaps not the easiest Murakami to start with – perhaps Norwegian Wood is better if you’re a Murakami virgin.
Murakami’s latest novel, After Dark, is more of a novella than his usual epic. It follows the story of five characters awake and active at night in the outskirts of Tokyo, or in some cases fast asleep. The usual Murakami prose is in full effect, but this time there seems to be a lack of grip – the attempt to make the story, as it stands, fit into one night falls somewhat flat. It’s certainly an enjoyable read, but when you compare it to Ian McEwan’s wonderful Saturday, you feel that Murakami should perhaps have taken a leaf out of McEwan’s book and added slightly more action. Not one of his best, but still worth a read if you’re a fan.