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57 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars After Dark is the distilled essence of everything Murakami has ever written.
"It's not as if our lives are divided simply into light and dark. There's a shadowy middle ground. Recognising and understanding the shadows is what a healthy intelligence does. And to acquire a healthy intelligence takes a certain amount of time and effort."

2007 has been a good year for short novels. Ian McEwen returned to form with `On Chesil Beach,' his...
Published on 3 Jun 2007 by Sam J. Ruddock

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful writing but not enough story?
I've only read one other book by Murakami (shame on me?!) and that was The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (possibly the most bizarre book I have ever read, but one that I can still vividly remember over 10 years after reading it). I felt a lot of similarity between After Dark and Wind Up Bird: surreal scenes, strange events and Murakami's unusual approach to writing. After Dark...
Published on 20 Dec 2009 by Alison


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57 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars After Dark is the distilled essence of everything Murakami has ever written., 3 Jun 2007
By 
Sam J. Ruddock (Norwich, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: After Dark (Hardcover)
"It's not as if our lives are divided simply into light and dark. There's a shadowy middle ground. Recognising and understanding the shadows is what a healthy intelligence does. And to acquire a healthy intelligence takes a certain amount of time and effort."

2007 has been a good year for short novels. Ian McEwen returned to form with `On Chesil Beach,' his best work for years and I was desperately excited to get my hands on the long awaited return of Haruki Murakami with his latest novel, `After Dark'. After all, Murakami, like McEwan is one of the leading short story writers in the world and `Sputnik Sweetheart' remains his finest work to date.

The first thing to say is that this is a very short novel. At just 201 pages it took me barely 4 hours and I am not a fast reader. Some may say this is not value for money but does quantity really equal quality? This, like everything Murakami writes, is worth every penny you spend on it.

The story is that of Tokyo after darkness, when the sun goes down and the lights go on. It is the perfect setting for a Murakami novel: jazz records play leisurely in the background of late night bars, the streets are deserted and his usual ensemble of well meaning loaners in search of themselves have deep, revelatory conversations which unwind slowly over a cup of coffee and a cigarette. `After Dark' is like the distilled essence of everything Murakami has ever written.

Mari, a nineteen year old girl, is sitting alone in a coffee bar reading a thick novel and waiting for the night to pass. Takahashi is savouring his bands last all-night rehearsal and has stopped in for some coffee. It is almost midnight. Back at home, Eri Asai (Mari's sister) has been asleep for two months, a sleeping beauty. As we watch the strange events of the dense night unfold it is as if the night has been personified, and the people are just encroaching on its time. Revelation and transition is in the air, it is `After Dark' and the possibilities are endless.

The atmosphere lurks somewhere between awake and asleep, we feel the neon signs lighting up the darkness and smell the hazy smoke of insomnia in the gaps between the words. Murakami is incapable of writing a dull story and `After Dark' is no different. It may not be his best ever work, but once you pick this book up and feel the darkness enshroud you like a blanket you will not dare put it down until the morning has arrived and there is nothing to do but wait for night to return.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely an Interesting Read......., 21 Aug 2011
This review is from: After Dark (Paperback)
Have you ever sat one day, on your own, and wondered...."Is someone else, somwhere far, miles away, across the world, doing the same as me?" or "I wonder what someone 3000 miles away, who I don't know, is doing at this very moment in time"?

Well...I have on many occaisions...and while I will never actually know the answer, "After Dark" by Haruki Murakami gave me at least one potential answer to my question.

Murakami describes in very much detail about the goings on in Tokyo, after the last train has gone, by focussing on one central character, Mari Esai, and her journey throughout the night as she encounters some bizarre situations and even more bizarre people!

The plot also focusses on several other protagonists, giving very much depth to this story, whereby not just Mari's nightlife is documented, but also that of an office worker, a love hotel manager, a prostitute, and also a young chicken salad-loving musician.

Not being one myself to stay up all night, either at home or in an all-night cafe in a big city, this story gave a definitely interesting insight into what the other side of the night, for those who stay awake, entails...........
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A neat introduction to Murakami if you can't handle the longer ones!, 5 July 2009
This review is from: After Dark (Paperback)
This is a nice and easy Murakami book to read which has all the normal components of his writing but crammed in to an easy story to read. Kafka on the Shore and the Wind UP Bird are both really long, rambling books - brilliant, but you need to be a keen reader if one of those is going to be your first taste of Murakami. After Dark is a perfect introduction to his books though, so give it a go!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For certain kinds of people, 6 Jun 2011
This review is from: After Dark (Hardcover)
Having spoken to other fans of Murakami, I've gained the impression that many readers see this as one of Murakami's less engaging books, chiefly because, according to these readers, it lacks a plot. I've also encountered the comment that Murakami's decision to write in the third rather than first person prevents the book from having quite the same personal dimension as his other books, especially when these other books exhibit common motifs - namely the middle-aged cynical man whose ordinary existence of interrupted by a seemingly random event - which do not seem to make an appearance in this book.

For me, however, this is Murakami's best work. The basic reason for this is that I feel that no other author or book by Murakami quite manages to capture the atmosphere and mood of staying up through the night in quite the same way. I say this as a university student who finds that they work best at night and who loves spending the long hours alone - apart from the sound of jazz - before finally having breakfast and watching the streets of my university city murmur to life before going to bed. Murakami captures the strangeness of the long night spent wide awake, he captures the events that happen at night that go unnoticed by people who, for one reason or another, have lives that, owing to their comparative ordinariness, do not force or allow them to stay up at night and read in a fast food place. I find that this book is at once a work of realism and a break with the standard novel - the former, because of Murakami's expert handling of the atmosphere of night, the latter, because this book does not seem to have a plot in the ordinary sense of the word, in that the main character does not noticeably overcome any personal challenges or change as a person during the course of the individual, and there are dilemmas and questions that are allowed to remain unaddressed. The narrative structure, whereby the chapters lack titles (again, unlike other Murakami books) but mark the time, was, for me, inseparable from the overall mood of the book.

I listened to the jazz artist Joanna Wang whilst reading this book, because I enjoy listening to jazz whilst up at night, and both the artist and the book are now bound together in my psyche.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful writing but not enough story?, 20 Dec 2009
By 
Alison "runninggirlcycling" (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: After Dark (Paperback)
I've only read one other book by Murakami (shame on me?!) and that was The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (possibly the most bizarre book I have ever read, but one that I can still vividly remember over 10 years after reading it). I felt a lot of similarity between After Dark and Wind Up Bird: surreal scenes, strange events and Murakami's unusual approach to writing. After Dark provokes you to ponder the deeper meaning of the events, although I'm not sure I really did get to full understanding!

I really enjoyed the beautiful prose in the book, it does feel rather magical and Murakami has this way of drawing you right into the book. However, I couldn't help feeling disappointed with the story by the time I'd finished it. There wasn't really much of an outcome - or at least not a climax of an ending. It did feel a little pointless by the time I finished although I admired the penmanship greatly. I'm definitely going to look up his most popular books because even with such a strange story, the writing is wonderful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book, 21 Feb 2008
By 
Cletus (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: After Dark (Hardcover)
Like many other reviewers here I have read all of the English translations of Murakami's work. I am slightly surprised by the mixed/negative reviews here. At the same time I am a bit disappointed that we all haven't shared the same experience, because I loved this book. I think it is among his best work, and I think that it is a must-read for anyone looking to start on Murakami's literature. I lived in Tokyo and know Shinjuku quite well, so the description of the area is very evocative to me (you may already know that the look of Blade Runner is modeled on Shinjuku). Apart from that, I thought the dialog was nearly perfect, and that the expression of Japanese youth was very subtle but precise. Not to mention the sort-of love story and the sort-of love between the sisters. Both of these are very realistic and moving. Maybe my views are the exception here, but since the book is a short 200 pages, you don't have to invest too much time to decide for yourself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Thin Gruel, 18 Feb 2008
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: After Dark (Hardcover)
I read a fair amount of translated fiction, and Murakami is one of those writers I feel like I ought to like, but the few times I've tried, just haven't connected with. This latest novella seemed like another chance to check him out without a huge investment of time. The last book of his I read was his collection of short stories After the Quake, which were unified by common themes of alienation and loneliness. Those themes are dominant in this brief story as well.

Set in night-time Tokyo, the book often feels much more like a script for a moody film than it does a work of fiction. Many passages adopt a first-person omniscient voice, written in the style of a script, directing the camera and describing what it/we see. After a while this gets annoying, and made me wish that Murakami had just gone ahead and made a film if that's what he wanted to do. The storyline, such as it is, is arranged around the coincidental intersections of people, which calls to mind the structure of recent films such as (Short Cuts, Crash, Magnolia, Babel, Amores Perros, etc.) where we follow characters in and out of each others lives.

These characters include: Mari, a 19-year-old sitting in a diner reading the night away, Takahashi, a 20-something trombone player who recognizes her from high school, Karou, the ex-wrestler manager of a love hotel, a Chinese hooker who's badly beaten at the hotel, Korogi, a mysterious handyman at the hotel, Shirakawa, the nondescript but disturbed salaryman who beat the hooker, the hooker's mysterious motorcycle-riding boss, and finally Mari's model sister Eri, who is stuck in some kind of prolonged Sleeping Beauty-like slumber. The final character is Tokyo itself, which like these nocturnal people, is still awake but somewhat surreal.

Once again, Murakami seems fixated on creating a mood rather than a narrative. One gets a good sense of the characters and the strange ambiance of the night, but it doesn't lead anywhere particularly interesting. Once again, alienation and loneliness are the main themes -- but all these tales of missed connections can only take you so far before you start wanting something more substantial. I suspect, however, that ultimately, Murakami just isn't for me. (Neither, for that matter, is the "other" Murakami, Ryu, whose graphically violent books focus on the same themes, but in a very different manner.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Translation is terrible, 26 Feb 2013
By 
Matt (Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: After Dark (Paperback)
It can't be Murakami's writing that is this bad, it has to be the dud translation. Judge for yourself. If you do not mind reading pages such as I shall quote below, you may enjoy the book, but if like me, pages such as I shall quote below read like a typical Hollywood/ American TV script to you, this book will be as hard to stomach as the aural and visual garbage it is fashioned on.
So here is what you can expect. Two young Japamese girls talking. They are ckecking a security camera. One of the two girls is well built:

"I don't know what the hell I'm doing with these digital gizmos."
"Muscles don't help much do they?" says Komugi
"You got it."
With an ernest expression, Korogi says, "I think maybe Kaoru was born at the wrong time."
"Yeah," says Komugi, "By like two thousand years."
"Right on," says Korogi.
"Think you've got it all figured out, huh?" says Kaoru.
"Can't you guys do this stuff?"
"No way!" they chime in together. (p.69)

Almost the whole book has to be read with an American accent, as per above, to come alive, but for a few proper names of things actually in Japan (so not brand names). Ironically the translator is not "some dude tryna eke a livin" but a Harvard Professor of Japanese literature. It really does make you wonder. The blurbs on the back of the book reiterate how surreal Murakami is - but not as surreal as the experience of reading a Americanized Japanese novel. It could be Murakami's fault, not Rubin the translator, I don't read Japanese, but either way this is trashy novel writing by the standard of good novels of the past.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More like a screenplay than a novel, 7 Dec 2011
By 
Philoctetes (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: After Dark (Paperback)
My second experiment with Murakami and although After Dark is a short book that is easy to read it is also rather slender fare. The scenes with the comatose girl, in particular, are written as if with a view to becoming a movie. The whole book reads like a story designed to become a screenplay; when typically one complains about the over-simplification of movie adaptations of novels, this one could use another layer or two if it is ever transferred to the silver screen.

Having said that, the nocturnal perambulations of Mari, a loner who befriends the occupants of a 'love hotel' after a chance encounter with talkative young musician Takahashi, are engaging enough, and I was glad there was no repeat of the slightly fawning quality I thought I observed in Murakami's famous protagonist, Toru (Norwegian Wood).

Pretty good, then, but not one you're going to rave about while waiting for the morning bus.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful observation of a city at night, 5 July 2009
This review is from: After Dark (Paperback)
Another brilliant novel by the master of the surreal in every day life. You could say that "After dark" is some kind of concept novel. The point of view is mainly the view of a camera, observing a city at night, zooming in one a few chosen characters centered around Mari, her sleeping sister Eri and Takahashi - a guy who used to be in the same class as Eri. The love hotel Alphaville also plays an important part this particular night. At one stage the author takes us to a room in a parallel reality that I don't find particularly satisfying, but having that surreal element is necessary to keep the reader engaged. My interpretation is that you enter some kind of dream.

The best thing about the book is that there's no real plot. It's just an observation from midnight to dawn. There are no conclusions or resolutions. But for young Mari it's a very eventful night which makes the book a coming of age story.

It's so beautifully written it makes me want to read it again. The dialogue between Mari and Takahashi is fantastic. Not much is said, but what is said makes it more important. It feels like you're inside Mari's world even if the author hasn't written what she feels and thinks. It's all conveyed through dialogue and atmosphere. In the course of the night a crime is committed, but it doesn't matter that we won't find out what happens after. It's enough to observe the involved characters and draw your own conclusions.
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After Dark
After Dark by Haruki Murakami (Hardcover - 7 Jun 2007)
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