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After the Quake: Stories by Haruki Murakami

After the Quake: Stories (original 2000; edition 2003)

by Haruki Murakami

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Title:After the Quake: Stories
Authors:Haruki Murakami
Info:Vintage (2003), Paperback, 147 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:from Visual Bookshelf, 1001 books, Japan, Kobe earthquake, bookclub

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After the Quake by Haruki Murakami (2000)

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Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
I have yet to dislike a Murakami story. This is a smaller collection of stories written in the years following the Kobe earthquake in Japan in 1995. Murakami as well as the characters in these stories are touched in various ways by that event but not focal points, for the most part. These are little vignettes. I liked each of the six stories in this collection but nothing struck me as outstanding.

Murakami's characters always feel so real, and interesting in unusual ways. My favorite stories here were "landscape with flatiron" and "thailand." The other stories included were "ufo in koshiro," "all god's children can dance," "super-frog saves tokyo," and "honey pie." ( )
  RBeffa | Dec 10, 2013 |

"But the letter his wife left for him when she vanished five days after the earthquake was different: I am never coming back, she had written, then went on to explain, simply but clearly, why she no longer wanted to live with him.

The problem is that you never give me anything, she wrote. Or, to put it more precisely, you have nothing inside you that you can give me. You are good and kind and handsome, but living with you is like living with a chunk of air…*"

Purely coincidentally, my purchase of this book coincided with earthquake/tsunami combo that hit Japan in March of 2011. I was in Georgia with my parents visiting my little brother as he graduated from infantry boot camp at Fort Benning, and in true family fashion, we decided to hit up a local Barnes and Noble (seriously, just try to take someone in my family out of a bookstore…cannot.be.done.). Unfortunately, I was having a hard time locating some of the books on my “to read” list, though I remember they did have a large selection of Amish “romance” novels, which I affectionately refer to as “bonnet-rippers.” Anyway…one of very few books I was able to locate was Murakami’s short story collection After the Quake. I know, tres macabre, but I felt very drawn to it and picked it up.

Published in 2002, this collection consists of six short stories that take place in the wake of the 1995 Kobe earthquake. As a lover of Murakami’s oeuvre, this isn’t his seminal work or his strongest effort, but absolutely a strong example of his mastery of magical realism. These stories contain all the hallmarks of a Murakami: a sense of unreality; eerie, haunting settings; characters searching for something a bit beyond their grasp, searching for clarity and purpose, searching for themselves.

This was my second time reading this collection, and just like most Murakami I’ve read, I get something new out of it each time. A few of my favorite stories:

Honey Pie: The final story in the collection, Murakami offers his take on the classic love triangle plot with equal parts tenderness and disarray.

Landscape with Flatiron: Two students join a neighbor to build winter bonfires on the beach…a neighbor who believes that he will die trapped inside a refrigerator.

I have mixed feelings about All God’s Children Can Dance. I thought the premise was phenomenal (a man, raised by his mother to believe that he was the son of God, goes off in search of his biological father), however the story seemed to meander then end a bit prematurely.

Rubric rating: 7.5 Not my favorite Murakami, but still a super strong collection.

*quote from the story UFO in Kushiro, pages 5-6. ( )
  jaclyn_michelle | Nov 15, 2013 |
I'm still learning to like Murakami's novels, but his short stories are a counter to the idea that short stories are novels stripped down to their essentials, that the best of them introduce a situation and wrap it up neatly with a moral or "surprise twist ending" in just a few pages. Not to say that nothing happens in After the Quake; it is after all a plot-driven Murakami work in the most utilitarian of language (not knocking it, just describing it). When stuff happens, though, it doesn't necessarily mean anything. It was liberating just to read, without self-consciously attempting to boil a message down out of each chapter. You can try, but Murakami won't tell you exactly what to get out of each bit because frequently there isn't anything. And there doesn't have to be. ( )
  amelish | Sep 12, 2013 |
Six stories, all relating to an earthquake in one way or another. It's an interesting way to tie a collection together and the stories work well together, although they cover a wide range of subjects. ( )
  anneearney | Mar 31, 2013 |
have ebook version
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
I loved this book before last week’s earthquake, because it illuminated a few things about my own condition at the time that I read it. But now the truth in this collection of fiction has a new depth to it; its general conclusions have become amazingly relevant and important to us this week. It offers no solutions and I don’t even think it offers much comfort, but it holds a hauntingly accurate mirror to our world now.

» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Haruki Murakamiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rubin, JayTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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“Liza! What was it yesterday, then?”
“It was what it was.”
“That’s impossible! That’s cruel!”

   —Fyodor Dostoevsky, Demons
RADIO: …garrison already decimated by the Vietcong, who lost 115 of their men…
WOMAN: It’s awful, isn’t it, it’s so anonymous.
MAN: What is?
WOMAN: They say 115 guerillas, yet it doesn’t mean anything, because we don’t know anything about these men, who they are, whether they love a woman, or have children, if they prefer the cinema to the theatre. We know nothing. They just say…115 dead.

   —Jean-Luc Godard, Pierrot le Fou
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Five straight days she spend in front of the television, staring at crumbled banks and hospitals, whole blocks of stores in flames, severed rail lines and expressways.
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Please do not combine this entry with the entries for the individual short stories.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375713271, Paperback)

Haruki Murakami, a writer both mystical and hip, is the West's favorite Japanese novelist. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Murakami lived abroad until 1995. That year, two disasters struck Japan: the lethal earthquake in Kobe and the deadly poison gas attacks in the Tokyo subway. Spurred by these tragic events, Murakami returned home. The stories in After the Quake are set in the months that fell between the earthquake and the subway attack, presenting a world marked by despair, hope, and a kind of human instinct for transformation. A teenage girl and a middle-aged man share a hobby of making beach bonfires; a businesswoman travels to Thailand and, quietly, confronts her own death; three friends act out a modern-day Tokyo version of Jules and Jim. There's a surreal element running through the collection in the form of unlikely frogs turning up in unlikely places. News of the earthquake hums throughout. The book opens with the dull buzz of disaster-watching: "Five straight days she spent in front of the television, staring at the crumbled banks and hospitals, whole blocks of stores in flames, severed rail lines and expressways." With language that's never self-consciously lyrical or show-offy, Murakami constructs stories as tight and beautiful as poems. There's no turning back for his people; there's only before and after the quake. --Claire Dederer

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:51 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A collection of stories inspired by the January 1995 Kobe earthquake and the poison gas subway attacks two months later takes place between the two disasters and follows the experiences of people who found their normal lives undone by surreal events.

(summary from another edition)

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