SOUTH OF THE BORDER, WEST OF THE SUN by Haruki Murakami

downloadThis is a different Murakami, not like Norwegian  Wood, but also without marvellous and impossible events that occur in what otherwise purports to be a realistic narrative.

Two lives that first meet each other when they are only twelve years old to discover that they are soul mates, and get separated afterwards to different ways and for different circumstances for twenty-five years.

Hajime always remembers Shimamoto and will learn that the same happens to her, but for years they never see each other.

Hajime leads a happy life. He feels as if something is wrong, something is not complete, but after all a happy life. He has a wife and two children and has success with his own business.

One day Shimamoto shows up in his Jazz bar, and they start seeing each other again. The only requirement is never to ask her about her life.

They go on like this for a while until a final decision comes to Hajime’s mind.

I am always wondering about these main characters in Murakami’s novels. There are some unchanged characteristics in all of them: music (mostly classical and jazz), sports, books, cats and ears.

I already know that he likes cats, music, books and he is a sports man. He has declared this more than once. And so, I wonder if he is building different characters with this mix of things that he likes, are in some way how he would like to be or how he sometimes feels.

Just, wondering.

One of the things that I most love about his books is their capacity to make you think about his words long after you finished one of his stories.

Quotes:

Once I began one, I couldn’t put it down. Reading was like an addiction…”

I felt happy just being me and no one else”

That a person can, just by living, damage another human being beyond repair”

Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto, Japan during the post–World War II baby boom anddownload (1) raised in Shukugawa (Nishinomiya), Ashiya and Kobe. He is an only child. His father was the son of a Buddhist priest, and his mother the daughter of an Osaka merchant. Both taught Japanese literature.

Since childhood, Murakami, similarly to Kobo-abe, was heavily influenced by Western culture, particularly Western as well as Russian music and literature. He grew up reading a wide range of works by European and American writers, such as Franz Kafka,Gustave Flaubert, Charles Dickens, Kurt Vonnegut, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Richard Brautigan and Jack Kerouac. These Western influences distinguish Murakami from the majority of other Japanese writers.

Murakami studied drama at Waseda University in Tokyo, where he met his wife, Yoko. His first job was at a record store, much like Toru Watanabe, the narrator of Norwegian Wood. Shortly before finishing his studies, Murakami opened a coffeehouse and jazz bar, the Peter Cat, in Kokubunji, Tokyo, which he ran with his wife from 1974 to 1981—again, not unlike the protagonist in his later novel South of the Border, West of the Sun.

Murakami is a serious marathon runner and triathlon enthusiast, though he did not start running until he was 33 years old. On June 23, 1996, he completed his first ultramarathon, a 100 kilometer race around Lake Saroma in Hokkaido, Japan. He discusses his relationship with running in his 2008 memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

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