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81 Reviews
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Murakami so far
After reading Norwegian Wood, I found Murakami an author I would like to read much more of. After The Wind-up Bird Chronicle and The Elephan Vanishes, I have to admit South of the Border, West of the Sun is my favourite.
Only 200 or so pages, this book is one of the most touching love stories I have ever read, although at no point does it become overly sentimental.It...
Published on 7 Mar. 2006 by A. Voulgari

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A short and easy read
...but not Murakami's best. I did enjoy this tale of one mans love, confusion and borderline self- obsession, but I have to say, it is not the best story from Murakami. If you want a suitable introduction to his work (and by the large, it is excellent) then I would recommend Norwegian Wood a lot more. This book is simple (dare I say it semi-autobiographical?), and I found...
Published 23 months ago by Mr. Simon Paddon


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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Murakami so far, 7 Mar. 2006
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This review is from: South Of The Border, West Of The Sun (Paperback)
After reading Norwegian Wood, I found Murakami an author I would like to read much more of. After The Wind-up Bird Chronicle and The Elephan Vanishes, I have to admit South of the Border, West of the Sun is my favourite.
Only 200 or so pages, this book is one of the most touching love stories I have ever read, although at no point does it become overly sentimental.It mixes together fate, love, duty and choice and one man's dilemma between the life he knows and the love he longs for since his childhood.
Enigmatic, beautifully written and utterly brilliant.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning novel, a must-read for all Murakami fans, 13 Sept. 2004
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This review is from: South Of The Border, West Of The Sun (Paperback)
If you have never read anything from Murakami you might just as well start from here (and then, once you are 'hooked' - which you will be - move on to Norwegian Wood and Dance Dance Dance).
Even the setting eventually reminded me a bit of Norwegian Wood (which I read after this one) it is an utterly magical novel, and if you think you would never read a 'love story', well, read this one and expect to feel deeply shaken.
This is not (only) about love, or lost opportunities, or the constant tension between marriage, love and friendship - this is a book about feelings, about life and, most of all, about everybody's sense of loss when we make "sensible" choices in life, that end up making us, in the end, deeply dissatisfied with our lives...
Really one is without words when it comes to review a Murakami book, all is that to be said is: thanks to those who initally got me to read one, and to those who have never read him, start today!
I have probably already said this on some other reviews, when it comes to Murakami, 5 star is not enough...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nebulous love story, 26 May 2009
This review is from: South Of The Border, West Of The Sun (Paperback)
This is without doubt my favourite Murakami novel and arguably his most accessible book to date. Essentially a love story; the novel focuses on main protagonist Hajime's fractured love-life, and his ensuing mid-life crisis, as, running a successful Jazz bar and married with two children, he becomes dissatisfied with his lot and promptly - almost wilfully - puts all he has in jeopardy by picking-up with lame childhood sweetheart Shimamoto, who arrives unannounced in his bar, one ordinary day.
Ultimately, Hajime makes a decision, and the tale is resolved. There's not really much more to the story than that; however it is Murakami's dreamy and nebulous prose, and the haunting feel of this novel, that lifts it out of the ordinary and makes it such a compelling read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 10 Jun. 2007
This review is from: South Of The Border, West Of The Sun (Paperback)
Murakami deals with themes of romance, longing, marraige, and sadness in this story about a a past romance. I think this is definitely more in line with Sputnik Sweetheart and Norwegian Wood, that is to say is more grounded in reality rather than surreal wit. In any case this novella captures the feelings of sadness and love really well, as the main character sits there looking out of the car window, we are there with him. I've come to the conclusion his writing style is a bit like a semantic Edward Hopper painting. In any case, this is a beautiful book which left a resonance with me when long after I finished it. A great novella that is written concisely and intelligently.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Painful, rainy nights, beautifully presented., 30 Oct. 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: South Of The Border, West Of The Sun (Paperback)
I had recently finished Murakami’s “Norwegian Wood” – this was my second experience of his writing. I adored this book too. Much shorter than “Norwegian Wood”, it was equally poignant, painful and exquisite. The premise is simple, the return in adulthood of a childhood sweetheart, and the consequences. The execution is beautiful. Murakami has a magical way of wrapping the reader in the pain of his characters.
I admit to having been frustrated by Shimamoto, a character about whom we never learn very much. This is the point though, neither does Hajime, who has kept her in his thoughts since childhood. It is powerful that their strong hold over one another is based primarily on the past and memory, as is so often the case in life. I agree with another reviewer that the strength of the bond seems disproportionate to the picture of the childhood that is portrayed, but I think this demonstrates that over time our memory distorts reality and turns it into something so much more perfect and desirable. Hajime admits to being nostalgic, and I think that’s the key to understanding the passionate hold Shimamoto still has over him in adulthood.
I like Hajime, I believe the character, I feel for his difficulties, because he is reasonably uncomplicated, steadily making his way through life without deliberate aims or purpose, like so many of us! I think his fixation on Shimamoto gives him purpose, for a while.
Murakami’s beautiful mastery of words makes poetry of his prose, and it flows fantastically, with some breath-taking moments. But the pain portrayed is acute, and readers cannot help but feel a proportion of this pain themselves.
This is a beautiful book that I would not hesitate to recommend.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My first Murakami, 25 Aug. 2005
By 
Veronica (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: South Of The Border, West Of The Sun (Paperback)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. From the first paragraph I was gripped by the flowing prose and intriguing characters. What is particularly remarkable is that the main character is not particularly likeable, and yet I found myself totally caught up in his life and thoughts.
The novel starts when Hajime is twelve years old and his best friend is Shimamoto, a girl with a limp, whom he spends precious hours with listening to her father's record collection. As Hajime grows older he becomes more reckless, first having a passionate affair with the cousin of his girlfriend and later on having flings whilst his wife is pregnant. When he is twenty eight Hajime briefly sees Shimamoto and follows her, but they never speak, and Hajime doesn't see her again until she walks into one of his jazz bars almost ten years later. The novel charts their developing relationship.
I liked the themes throughout the book: being an only child, the nature of love and desire, why people do bad things, the tediousness of office jobs and modern City life. This was my first Murakami book and I'm looking forward to reading others. To be honest, I can't believe that I enjoyed a book so much that ended with so many unanswered questions. Shimamoto's life after she and Hajime were together when they were twelve remains a complete mystery, and the significance of the envelope with the money in it also raises plenty of questions.
Overall this was a fairly short, stylish read - just as I like them. Highly recommended.
JoAnne
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dreamlike, melancholy and mysterious, 22 Jun. 2011
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: South Of The Border, West Of The Sun (Paperback)
This is a short novel about a Japanese man - Hajime - who has carried a torch for a childhood crush his entire life. After a stuttering start he finds his feet in life: running two cocktail bars, married with two children. But still he remembers Shimamoto, whom he has not seen since he was 12 or 13. And then one day she walks into his bar and the comfortable existence that he has created for himself is thrown into disarray.

It's a deceptively simple novel and my review probably won't do it justice. Murakami's writing put me into a dreamlike state and I read it very quickly. The story is narrated by Hajime and it pulls you inside his mind so well that you almost feel like your breathing is synchronised with his. There are things about the book I can criticise. There are some strands that are never tied up or explained. Also, none of the female characters are even remotely rounded or plausible. His wife in particular seemed completely unrealistic. Really, I can't say that I liked any of the characters in the book at all. This didn't matter.

This would be a brilliant choice for a book club because it's short enough that everyone would read it and there is so much to discuss in it. The ending is somewhat ambiguous (at least it seemed that way to me) and I was dying to talk to someone about it. One theme is the importance that Hajime places on being an only child and how that created a bond between him and Shimamoto. Another is the idea that we can fall heavily for things we don't really understand - like the English songs that Hajime and Shimamoto listened to as children, but also their relationship itself. Another is the traces that early and intense relationships leave on us: both on Hajime and Shimamoto, but also on his first girlfriend.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Murakami book, 4 Feb. 2007
This review is from: South Of The Border, West Of The Sun (Paperback)
My favourite Murakami book. This one is slim, has the trademark surreal plot developments (including the 'mysterious woman who goes unexplainably missing' trick) and ambiguous ending, but doesn't get carried away. The book is full of characters who find it impossible to let go of things, and in this way it is a companion piece to the later Kafka on the Shore.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth often hurts., 1 Sept. 2007
By 
still searching (MK UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
As always with a Murakami story echoes of the experience reverberate through the mind long after the last word has been read. And the experience is truly mesmerizing. Okay the plot is familiar but Murakami manages to invest it with a timeless quality that illuminates the human condition only too well: we experience the everyday suffering life has to offer when we're full of apparent weakness, hopelessness and despair as well as those transcendent moments that enable us to pull through and ultimately survive. There are no false moments in this short tale that can easily be read in one sitting: but however long it takes the time will be well spent since it borders on perfection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars forgotten book, 5 Jan. 2011
This review is from: South Of The Border, West Of The Sun (Paperback)
This Murakami book often gets overlooked by customers in bookstores. You always read about how good Norwegian Wood is, but in my opinion, South of the Border is much better. It is by far his saddest story so far, and for his standards, it's a pretty normal story. There are no frogs falling from the sky, or no tales about disappearing cats or anything. It is a true love story. I don't want to go too deep into the story, because I don't want to give away too much. Just trust me. I've read all of his books, including parts 1 and 2 of 1Q84, and South of the border, west of the sun is an absolute must read. Even more than Norwegian Wood.
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South Of The Border, West Of The Sun
South Of The Border, West Of The Sun by Haruki Murakami (Paperback - 1 Jun. 2000)
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