Haruki Murakami lives in Oiso, Japan, just outside of Tokyo.
Lost loves and passionate mistakes haunt the successful but aimless man who tells his life story in this oddly gripping, often dreamlike tale. Growing up in the suburbs of post-WWII Japan, where families of two or three children are the rule, Hajime feels that as an only child he is marked‘perhaps accurately‘as "spoiled, weak and self-centered." His only real friend is smart, pretty Shimamoto, also an only child, who's further set apart from other children by her polio-damaged leg. The two form a deep bond, but life separates them when they are preadolescents, after which Hajime feels that he exists in a void. Some 25 years later, they meet again. Hajime is now a successful nightclub owner, happily married with two children, but he is tempted to throw it all away for Shimamoto, who hints at the unhappy mystery of her life and at dark secrets she will not share with him. Murakami (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle) writes economically in the voice of Hajime, sketching outlines of events to be filled in by the reader's imagination. The narrative unfolds as an introspective ghost story in which Hajime must exorcise his past in the person of the enigmatic Shimamoto before he can affirm the new direction of his life. The ending, at once tender and hopeful, shows Murakami in a more mellow aspect than his work has exhibited before. (Feb.)
Romance, accusingly bittersweet but still redemptive, is the theme of this novel written by award-winning novelist Murakami, one of Japan's most popular authors. Two only children who were schoolmates and best friends meet again after a 25-year separation. Hajime is now married, the father of two little girls and a successful owner of two jazz clubs. Shimamoto has also changed; she has become a very beautiful woman. She is always immaculately and expensively dressed, but she will not talk about her life or anything that has happened to her. Nevertheless, Hajime believes that he loves her more than life itself; he is convinced that he could leave his family and his business to be with her. After they spend a night together, a night filled with raw passion, she vanishes. Hajime is distraught. After much soul searching, he begins to put his life back together and discovers that he has become a stronger man, one who realizes that looking back is often necessary in order to move forward.‘Janis Williams, Shaker Heights P.L., OH
"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