TITLE: South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami
RELEASE DATE: 1 June 2000
WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT
Growing up in the suburbs in post-war japan, it seemed to Hajime that everyone but him had brothers and sisters. His sole companion was Shimamoto, also an only child. Together they spent long afternoons listening to her father’s record collections. But when his family moved away, the two lost touch.
Now Hajime is in his thirties. After a decade of drifting he has found happiness with his loving wife and two daughters, and success running a jazz bar. Then Shimamoto reappears. She is beautiful, intense, enveloped in mystery.
Hajime is catapulted into the past, putting at risk all he has in the present.
My birthday is January 4, 1951. The first week of the first month of the second year of the second half of the twentieth century. Something to commemorate, I suppose, which is why my parents named me Hajime – ‘Beginning’ in Japanese. Other than that, a 100 per cent average birth. My father worked in a large stockbroker’s, my mother was a typical housewife. In the war, my father was called up as a student and sent to fight in Singapore; after the surrender he spent some time in a POW camp. My mother’s house was burned down in a B-29 raid in 1945. Their generation suffered most from the long war.
WHAT I THOUGHT
I fell in love with Murakami’s writing when I read After Dark earlier this year for the 2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge. Since then I’ve made it my mission to devour everything he’s written. South of the Border, West of the Sun is a great book and I loved it. It’s not what I was expecting since reading After Dark and is a lot more normal for want of a better word. After Dark is weird and trippy and leaves you feeling like you’ve taken a massive dose of a hallucinogenic drug. You never quite know what’s going on. South of the Border, West of the Sun is much more straight forward. The premise is simple: a man meets his first love years after they drifted apart but he’s married with two children. Who could resist such an idea? I like to pretend I’m tough as old boots but at my core I’m a big sap, a big love-sick sap. I’m love’s bitch. I really enjoyed reading about Hajime and Shimamoto’s relationship and Hajime’s fruitless, empty life after they drift apart. My heart strings were tugged a little. I thought I knew what Hajime would do but the novel went in an unexpected direction. I love Murakami’s writing. His prose is gorgeous. I’m definitely a huge fan. Fan-girl me.