Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 0307278735 (ISBN13: 9780307388889)
Read from September 17 to September 19, 2013
My rating: 4 of 5 stars ★★★★☆
A couple of months ago, my friend was selling two of her books for a very reasonable price. The books were After Dark by Haruki Murakami and Looking for Alaska by John Green. Since the books were priced a lot cheaper than the original price, and they were written by two respectable authors, I bought the books and my friend shipped them straight from Davao. They had been sitting on my bookshelf for some time, and it was only recently that I felt I am ready to read another Murakami book.
The whole happenings in the novelette have taken place in only a span of a night. Mari was staying at Denny’s as she reads a thick book, when a guy named Takahashi approached her. He plays trombone for a band, and he remembers Mari as Eri’s younger sister, and who also happens to be his date in a swimming party two summers ago.
In the course of that night, Mari met Kaoru, a retired female wrestler, who now works as a manager of love ho (shortened for love hotel, which is actually the Japanese equivalent of a “motel” here in the Philippines); a Chinese prostitute who was beaten and stripped by her customer in that love ho; and some of the staff of the love ho, Korogi and Komugi. Apart from them, there were also other people mentioned in the book: Shirakawa, a sadistic computer expert; and Eri, Mari’s older sister who happens to be asleep for two months! Though there are some characters that didn’t really interact directly with each other, each of them seemed related and entwined with each other.
The title of the book was probably taken from the song of Curtis Fuller, “Five Spot After Dark” which was mentioned in the book. I haven’t really heard of that ever before, but I am interested what it is, since Takahashi loves that song. The story is also related to the title, just like what the bartender has said:
“It is true, though: time moves in its own special way in the middle of the night.
The ending was really vague, and there weren’t really answers to the questions that hover in my mind. It was just that: an ending; and it seemed that Murakami left the readers hanging. However, it isn’t really irritating, because it compels the readers to think, to make their own conclusions, to be part of the story. The novelette is also divided into chapters with “real-time” timeline, and in real life, there are really no such thing as ending.
This was the second time that I’ve read Murakami. I have read his more famous Norwegian Wood before, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. After Dark was also the first Murakami book that I physically owned because I’ve read Norwegian Wood as an ebook. Nevertheless, Haruki Murakami never failed me immerse and draw me to his story. In a prose that dazzles and entices, Murakami compels me to read his novelette page after page. It was a short read, actually, and I finished it in a span of less than 24 hours as I go between my classes.
I enjoyed reading Murakami, and I really intend to read more of his books in the future. I’d probably save money to buy physical copies of his books, and save space for his books in my bookshelf. Haruki Murakami is one author that really engages his readers to the story by building suspense through his psychological insight and hypnotic prose.