Murakami’s existential musings:

Sophie Ratcliffe at TLS:

Haruki Murakami: AFTER DARK
Translated by Jay Rubin

Haruki_2We meet the heroine of After Dark in a late-night diner, somewhere in a large Japanese city. The diner is described first. The “unremarkable but adequate lighting”, the “expressionless decor and tableware”, the “innocuous background music at low volume”:
“Everything about the restaurant is anonymous and interchangeable. And almost every seat is filled.
      After a quick survey of the interior, our eyes come to rest on a girl sitting by the front window. Why her? Why not someone else? Hard to say. But, for some reason, she attracts our attention – very naturally. She sits at a four-person table, reading a book. Hooded gray parka, blue jeans, yellow sneakers faded from repeated washing . . . . Little makeup, no jewellery, small, slender face . . . . Every now and then, an earnest wrinkle forms between her brows.”

Gradually, more details about the girl’s late-night vigil are revealed. Her name is Mari, she is in her first year at college specializing in Chinese, and there is trouble at home. With no warning, her elder sister has dropped out of normal existence. Two months earlier, the beautiful Eri declared that she was “going to go to sleep for a while”, and has not woken up.

More here.

An interview with Murakami here.