Booklist starred review on After The Quake by Haruki Murakami

After The Quake

Booklist starred review

Murakami's haunting short stories were born in the aftermath of the terrible Kobe earthquake of 1995, which, along with the Tokyo poison gas attacks, the subject of Underground, continues to preoccupy and concern this keen and poetic writer. Spare yet richly mysterious and emotionally prismatic, these unpredictable tales explore the subtle ways the earthquake affected those who live far from its epicenter yet who are nonetheless shaken to their very core. As Frog says in "Super-Frog Saves Tokyo," a hallucinatory fable about a lonely loan collector, earthquakes make people "realize what a fragile condition the intensive collectivity known as 'city' really is." Not only is the urban hive easily toppled, Murakami suggests, so are beliefs, marriages, family ties, and friendships. Baffled and disconnected, his intriguing characters stumble into revelations while gazing at a bonfire on a beach, standing beneath a brimming moon on a deserted baseball diamond, or succumbing to an embrace. Murakami magically links the mythical past, when animals spoke to humans and dreams mattered, to today's anxious world, where, tattooed by the fitful light of televisions emitting images of disaster, people stand on ever-shifting ground and valiantly offer a hand, and their love, to one another.