7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This review is from: Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche (Panther) (Paperback)
Fans of Murakami's work may be surprised by this book - rather than his trademark weird and wondrous prose, this is a collection of interviews with survivors of the 1995 sarin gas attack on Tokyo's underground rail system. At first the interviews seem repetitive, a Rashomon-style collection of different views of the same story. But persevere, and what emerges is a complex exploration of the Japanese psyche - how people felt before, during and after the attack, and how the constrictive and conformist nature of mainstream Japanese society was profoundly shaken by the events of this one day. Murakami elegantly pulls the strands together, commenting and drawing conclusions, but he lets the survivors tell their own stories. More chilling are the interviews with Aum Shinrikyo members present and past - much as we don't understand their acts and their thoughts, we can see how Shoko Asahara and the Aum cult could exert such influence over its followers. As I say, it's not your average Murakami book. But then, as an author he often writes about ordinary people facing extraordinary situations - and that's exactly what this book is all about.