Review: Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami

 

            “To tell the truth, I do not know this thing called ‘mind’, what it does or how to use it.  It is only a word I have heard.”

“The mind is nothing you use,” I say.  “The mind is just there.  It is like the wind.  You simply feel its movements.”

Murakami’s surreal imaginings deservedly earn him an international following.  He possesses the skill of making even his most fantastical ideas seem familiar: in Hard-boiled Wonderland we delve into an underground tunnel hidden in an office-block closet and discover mythical golden beasts, yet we don’t even flinch.

In the odd-numbered chapters, our narrator, a Calcutec who can process data in his head and transform it into code, describes his solitary urban lifestyle (consisting of good whiskey, old films, Bob Dylan and Japanese cooking) and tries to get to the bottom of an unusual job he’s undertaken.  In the even-numbered chapters, however, we find a complete contrast in tone, with a second narrator who reads dreams in a walled town where the inhabitants have lost their shadows.  As the novel gathers pace and these stories begin to intertwine, we start to wonder just how different our two narrators are…

With a nod to Alice in Wonderland and a number of other literary adventures, this is a quirky, thought-provoking read featuring beautiful prose.  In fact it’s one of my all-time favourite novels.  This is the second time I’ve read it and I loved it just as much the second time round.  Murakami really puts you right inside the minds of his novels’ protagonists, leaving you with absolutely no choice but to accept their bizarre adventures as reality.

This book is completely different from anything else you’ve ever read.  Are you still here?  Go and buy it now!

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