South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

tumblr_n6hno2qIxr1sfxmouo1_500South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami




GENRE: Contemporary Fiction


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.


I see this book as the lesser weirdly intense version of Norwegian Wood. There’s the presence of 37-year-old protagonist still harbouring feelings for his 12-year old friend whom he never saw again after moving away. The similar Murakami feel of jazz music, everyday Tokyo life, little introspection of the protagonist about his feelings and life and occasional comment upon the state of the world left me in a cocoon of Murakami Goodness.
This was another realistic story by Murakami but with the same surreal dream like feeling. At first, Hajime has to deal with his isolation and distinction as an only child which forms the basis of his bond with Shimamoto. After he moves away, her thoughts still venture into his mind occasionally but he meets another girl Izumi.
Though their relationship is fine and he spends his teenage years with her, something changes.
That is one thing I like about Murakami. he can write the absurdest of incidents with such conviction that you have no choice but to believe it.
Even after Hijame gets married and has two kids and is living a successful life with a job he loves, the happiness gets lost in the monotonous existence and his thoughts venture back to Shimamoto.
Say what you will about Murakami’s characters, they are pretty obsessed with their first love.
He is willing to uproot everything he has just for a girl he now knows next to nothing about.
The ending is again, like all his books, ambiguous.
It ends like you reading a paragraph enjoying the story and turn the page to read what’s next but it is blank. Always leaves an incomplete feeling behind but now I have started loving it because I see it as the author’s way of making his characters live their lives beyond the pages.
The occasional beautiful sentence struck a chord that resonated so true within me. And the overall writing went by in a dreamy haze. Though this book would be less memorable to me than the other Murakami books I have read, it still has its charm.


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