Saturday 6 November 2010

My book report

It is with some embarrassment that I confess that, at the age of 30-something, I have read my first foreign book - a translation (obviously, as I can't read or speak Japanese!) of After Dark by Haruki Murakami. And I enjoyed it very much - in fact, it makes an appearance on my list of Books I Wish I'd Written. It is very surreal, with a wonderfully rich language that just makes you want to keep on reading.

It takes place during a single night, starting at midnight and ending at dawn. The central character meets several people that she would not have otherwise met, sharing her story and hearing theirs in return. The language, the lush description, the sheer strangeness of the overall narrative meant I compulsively read through until the end... which is not so much an ending - the way an English teacher would advise an ending to be - more that, as dawn arrives, the spell is broken. Which is the kind of ending that I understand and respect - you close the book and really need to think about what you have just read.

The author isn't someone who's registered in my consciousness, although a glance at his list of novels reveals a couple that I recognise and am now interested to read - notably Kafka on the Shore, which I think I must have read a review of at some point.

I don't know how I've got to this point in my life without reading foreign authors. I feel as though I am lacking something fundamental, and I have the need to rectify this lapse immediately... Well, not immediately... it's half past nine on a Saturday evening...

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