Haruki Murakami – South of the Border, West of the Sun
Another great book of Haruki Murakami (村上春樹) that I devoured in shortest time – South of the Border, West of the Sun (国境の南、太陽の西). It turns around the development from childhood to adulthood of the main character Hajime. The slightly queer boy, who prefers to read books and listen to music, spends most his time with a class colleague, Shimamoto, who due to polio is dragging her lag. They grow close to each other, but are finally separated when entering junior high-school and moved to different areas. From that on Hajime goes through a labyrinth of stories with other women, boring jobs, until he finds his wife, daughter of a successful entrepreneur. They get two kids, he builds up two hip bars in Aoyama, all seems like the perfect happy life. Until he meets Shimamoto again – and is kicked out of his normal routine and daily life, up to a point where he is on the brink of deciding between his family and Shimamoto. But Shimamoto, always the cryptic one, disappears after a deeply sought after reunion in all senses, not to be seen again. At this point a coincidental meeting with former girlfriend Izumi, who Hajime has hurt badly, brings him back on track. The book finishes with a new day where Hajime will restart his family life.
On the surface it is a simple love story with a few twists, but it leaves the reader restless. Too many open ends, things we don’t know and that are not explained – on purpose. Shimamoto’s strange behavior, her often prolonged disappearance. The role of the betrayed Izumi, whose empty face brings Hajime back to his family. You cannot help but creating your own stories, your own background information, your own book, while reading this one. Maybe this is the reason why I like his books, they instigate fantasy, they motivate you to create your own world.