After Dark and The Wanderer’s Vanity.

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After Dark was the first Murakami’s writing I’ve ever read. Enchanting, surrealistic, yet tumultuous and confounding were the constructs of the world in After Dark or rather, of the urban streets Downtown Tokyo at night. The novel follows a wanderer’s footsteps in and out the night’s dangerous deeds and his meeting with yet another lost soul.The trail of Murakami’s prose and acuteness of words for the first time weaken my doubt regarding translated literature (especially literature translated from an Asian language). I find myself troubled by the same sentiments as the characters’, by the very similar secrets and musings that also once almost led me to risk my own security, just to find a place to belong. In the void of his eerie urbanscape, there’s strangely this heaven of consolation. Murakami’s employment of darkness as the fundamental setting accentuates the feeling of unfamiliarity and desperation that has its root deep in the seed of our modern lives and underscores the bound of uncanniness one always carries but never speaks of. In the darkness, it isn’t the wanderer’s freedom that is found but intense insecurity of the beings that are already so vulnerable. In the darkness, shadows on the streets of Tokyo shift and contort. In and out the neon-lit cafes, rugged faces of people who are long detached from memories and childhood hide beneath the dark hems of their hoods, beyond which their fierce eyes gleam and threaten. Yet, there are no evil forces to fight, no journey to conquer as everyone’s already lost in the inter-webs that make our beings. In the end, one may wander as much as they desire into the fathomless night and the mind may lose its bearing and sanity as often one’s own security can afford until the first streak of dawn, until the grind of routines claims our living souls. In the night, the evil lives get loose but so are our hearts. Maybe that’s why despite the desperation and meaninglessness of the story’s wandering, there’s yet something consoling and liberating about reading After Dark.

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