Because the world is a hard and peculiar place. We all wear masks to survive.
Read from September 16 to 18, 2016.
Mass Market Paperback, 244 pages.
I think this is probably the shortest Murakami novel I have seen so far. Murakami is notorious for writing thick tomes so this was nice surprise. I picked up this novel at the Hong Kong Book Fair a few months back. That was quite the event. I don’t think I have ever been in a venue that held so many books. It was awesome. While this novel isn’t the best that Murakami has to offer, it was still an intriguing read.
Mari sits in a cafe drinking coffee and reading a book. It is the middle of the night and yet this is an all too familiar occurrence for her. She can’t sleep and she doesn’t want to be at home. So she wanders and finds a place to read. Her sister, the pretty one, Eri, has been asleep. Not in a coma, but asleep. She gets up to eat, shower and sleep and yet somehow no one ever sees her do it. Mari has never been close to her sister. Mari is plain, yet smart and practical, but her sister gets most of the attention from others because she is beautiful. One evening, Mari is joined by Takahashi, an acquaintance of her sister’s. This sets off a peculiar string of events involving a hotel manager who is escaping her past, a beaten Chinese prostitute, and her cold perpetrator. With every character in this book, they are pretending to be something that they are not for the sake of their own survival.
The whole novel unravels over the period of one night. Each chapter is a different hour of the same evening that switches back and forth between Mari’s scenarios and the peculiar setting of her sleeping sister Eri. I don’t fully comprehend everything that was happening to Eri but the chapters were tense and interesting.
Eri, I believe, is asleep because she is tired of being a person that is not truly her, but the expectation that everyone thinks she should be. Eri confides in Takahashi that she wishes she was closer to Mari, a fact that surprises Mari when she hears it. Both of the sisters are going through similar struggles, yet each of their own personal facades keeps them from each other.
This book is a quick surreal read that brinks on the mystery genre. If you’re looking for a book to devour in one sitting that you will find yourself thinking about long after reading, check out this book.