From the Muse’s Bookshelf: “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World” by Haruki Murakami

Hello, all!

It’s been a little while since I last posted, and look where we are now: It’s almost summer! I finished off another of Haruki Murakami’s novels this week, and this is only the second Murakami novel I’ve read completely (the first? 1Q84, and you can find my reviews right this way.

What struck me about this was that the characters lack names. They’re only referred to by something that is used to identify them, whether it’s an object, the character’s age, or—in the End of the World—their profession. I was about three chapters in when I realized they alternated. One set of chapters deals with a data shuffler who lives in the Hard-Boiled Wonderland of daily life. The second set of chapters deals with a newcomer to a place called the Town, the only place of its sort in a bleak End of the World, where shadows are stripped from people upon entry. As the novel goes on, however, the way both worlds are connected is slowly revealed.

Given that I finished 1Q84 mere months ago, I really didn’t know what to expect when I started this one. Nameless protagonists aren’t something I’ve really encountered before in the stories I’ve read. It puts you in the protagonists’ mind, with a first-hand experience of things happening in both worlds. At the same time, you’re witnessing everything falling together. By novel’s end, I’d realized it wasn’t just a novel about two different worlds connected by one common link.

It was about human consciousness and what it means to exist.

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