THE BOOK REPORT: After Dark by Haruki Murakami
After Dark reads like a dream, which comes as no surprise, as the novel takes place in its entirety between the hours of 11:56 pm and 6:52 am. Set in present-day Japan, specifically the confines of a 24-hour Denny’s, a “love hotel,” and an inconspicuous bedroom, the 191-pages of After Dark read simply, yet create an invariably complex web of characters strung together by not-so-vague connections.
In typical Murakami through-the-lens style (Murakami literally provides stage directions, portraying his characters through a literal camera lens), the reader becomes primarily engaged in the parallel plotlines of two sisters: one who cannot sleep, and one who can only sleep. Mari, the resident insomniac, sets out for a night of utter boredom, yet by the conclusion has endured enough unexpected encounters to have permitted the entry of friendship, love, and danger into her otherwise mundane life. Her sister Eri is transfixed in an endless sleep from which we are not quite sure she will ever emerge.
Murakami has once again gifted us with an almost-entirely unrealistic plot comprised of characters who are at once relatable and themes that are remarkably thought-provoking, as it brushes on issues as complex as existentialism and the constitution of basic human needs.