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South of the Border, West of the Sun by…
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South of the Border, West of the Sun (1998)

by Haruki Murakami

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,232821,175 (3.83)124
  1. 40
    Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: In my opinion, a much better book.
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English (54)  French (7)  Spanish (6)  German (4)  Dutch (3)  Norwegian (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Hungarian (1)  Italian (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (82)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
This is a quiet, brooding tale of a young man growing up in post-war Tokyo and trying to find himself and his happiness. He has relationships with many women, but the three who factor in the most are his wife, a high-school girlfriend with whom he broke up horribly, and his best elementary school friend. He spends most of his life unsure of what he wants, and makes a lot of questionable and impulsive choices. Even as he approaches 40 years old, he still isn't sure what he wants.

In general, I found the narration to be shallow. The main character is the only one who seems to have complex thoughts, make detailed observations, and have reactions. I was especially off-put by the way females were portrayed. With the exception of one particular female character, the others seemed to only be included so as to be at the service (physically or otherwise) of men. I was craving more detail and more insight. ( )
  BooksForYears | Mar 31, 2016 |
This is an exquisitely bitter-sweet tale of a love that never dies and yet never really quite manifests itself either. When a childhood love suddenly comes back into his life, our narrator finds that he is haunted by a mysterious woman who's never really quite there. Filled with many of the recurring motifs Murakami seems obsessed with, reading him is like returning to talk to an intimate friend. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
best Murakami book :) all are good if you like murakami style but for me No1 is south of the border ,west of the sun ( )
  HopeSinger | Jan 5, 2016 |
With the completion of South of the Border, West of the Sun, by Haruki Murakami, I have read everything in the fiction realm that Murakami has written that has been translated into English, which is virtually all of it with the exception of a handful of recent short stories. That rather prolific body of work includes thirteen novels, three short story collections and an oddball kid’s novella. Quite by accident rather than any design on my part, my final notch in the Murakami catalog represents something of the mid-point of the author’s career – South of the Border, West of the Sun appeared first in Japan in 1992 and was later released in English in 2000; six novels were published before it, and six more after it. This review thus affords a kind of opportunity for me to reflect not only on this novel but also upon Murakami’s overall literary impact.
Like the author, Hajime – the central character of South of the Border, West of the Sun – is an only child who grows up to own a jazz bar. Like nearly every Murakami male protagonist, Hajime is a passive, introspective fellow who rather than managing his own destiny more or less lets life happen to him. Approaching middle age, an affluent family man in a stable but colorless marriage, Hajime finds himself haunted both by the memories of an old girlfriend whom he once hurt very deeply, and by a longing for a close female childhood friend named Shimamoto who dragged one leg due to polio. Some two and a half decades have passed since he has seen her, but one day Shimamoto randomly shows up in his jazz bar, a mysterious and now strikingly beautiful woman whose leg has been mended by surgery. Hajime falls deeply in love with her, but the enigmatic Shimamoto disappears and reappears in his life without explanation over the coming months. Still, Hajime finds himself committed to her and willing to give up his family and sacrifice everything to be with her.
The first part of the novel’s title corresponds to a song ostensibly recorded by Nat King Cole; the second refers to an Inuit syndrome known as “Arctic hysteria” where monotony begets a series of irrational acts followed by amnesia. While most critics fail to reflect upon this, the signposts in the title and various other clues lead me to believe that the adult Shimamoto was in fact an imaginary phantom conjured up in Hajime’s mid-life crisis rather than an actual flesh-and-blood lover, but there remains enough ambiguity that – as with the creature in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein –it could easily go either way. Like Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby – which Murakami has said deeply influenced him and which he himself translated into Japanese – the style and tone of South of the Border, West of the Sun seems rather ordinary while reading it, yet belies a much greater complexity that is only truly revealed once the final pages have been turned.
In the same sense, I suppose, I find myself relishing Murakami’s prose far more than I actually value each book as a finished work. That is perhaps odd, but I’m not certain there is a better way to express it. Of the thirteen Murakami novels, I still would call Kafka on the Shore – the very first one I read – his most brilliant work and the one I enjoyed the most. And by far the one I liked the very least was his most recent, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. I recall being frustrated as hell by all of the loose ends that remain frayed at the conclusion of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and 1Q84, but it is in retrospect that I came to reflect upon these as great literature and among his finest works. Like most critics I loved A Wild Sheep Chase, and find it amusing that so many pseudo-intellectuals simply don’t get it. Unlike many fans, I found the much celebrated Norwegian Wood boring and uninspiring. Still, once you are bitten by the Murakami bug, it remains hard to let go. Like the songs of the Beatles, there really isn’t a truly bad tune.

http://regarp.com/2015/12/26/review-of-south-of-the-border-west-of-the-sun-by-ha... ( )
  Garp83 | Dec 26, 2015 |
“After a certain length of time has passed, things harden up. Like a cement hardening in a bucket. And we can't go back anymore”

― Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun ( )
  jrthebutler | Oct 28, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Haruki Murakamiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bandini, DitteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bandini, GiovanniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fennema, ElbrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gabriel, PhilipTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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My birthday is January 4, 1951. The first week of the first month of the first year of the second half of the twentieth century.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679767398, Paperback)

In South of the Border, West of the Sun, the arc of an average man's life from childhood to middle age, with its attendant rhythms of success and disappointment, becomes the kind of exquisite literary conundrum that is Haruki Murakami's trademark. The plot is simple: Hajime meets and falls in love with a girl in elementary school, but he loses touch with her when his family moves to another town. He drifts through high school, college, and his 20s, before marrying and settling into a career as a successful bar owner. Then his childhood sweetheart returns, weighed down with secrets:
When I went back into the bar, a glass and ashtray remained where she had been. A couple of lightly crushed cigarette butts were lined up in the ashtray, a faint trace of lipstick on each. I sat down and closed my eyes. Echoes of music faded away, leaving me alone. In that gentle darkness, the rain continued to fall without a sound.
Murakami eschews the fantastic elements that appear in many of his other novels and stories, and readers hoping for a glimpse of the Sheep Man will be disappointed. Yet South of the Border, West of the Sun is as rich and mysterious as anything he has written. It is above all a complex, moving, and honest meditation on the nature of love, distilled into a work with the crystal clarity of a short story. A Nat "King" Cole song, a figure on a crowded street, a face pressed against a car window, a handful of ashes drifting down a river to the sea are woven together into a story that refuses to arrive at a simple conclusion. The classic love triangle may seem like a hackneyed theme for a writer as talented as Murakami, but in his quietly dazzling way, he bends us to his own unique geometry. --Simon Leake

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:20 -0400)

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A successful Japanese nightclub owner, husband, and father risks everything to be reunited with his childhood sweetheart.

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