After Dark – Haruki Murakami

There are some books that are Must Reads!  This book is one of them.  Absolutely beautifully written, gorgeous sentences, poetic…and this is the English translation! I was entranced from the first page.

Mari doesn’t want to go home so she sits and reads in an all-night diner, her beautiful sister, Eri, sleeps a deep, heavy sleep and has been asleep for two months. This book is the story of Mari and Eri’s night. That’s really all I’m going to say about the plot as it’s one of those that has to be read to be believed.

The chapter headings are really great.  They’re a little analogue clock in the corner which show the time so you know which part of the night they’re in.  They’re beautifully drawn and in keeping with the mystery of the book they only have four points and the hands marked, no numbers.  The writing is just fabulous, I’ll give you an example:

Eyes mark the shape of the city.

Through the eyes of a high-flying night bird, we take in the scene from mid-air. In our broad sweep, the city looks like a single gigantic creature – or more like a single collective entity created by many intertwining organisms.

This is actually the opening of the book. It’s really beautiful how he compares the city with an animal using the eyes and then brings a bird flying over the city into it. We get a birds eye view of the city and then as he wants us to focus further in he uses an image of ‘concentrated brightness’ to bring us into a specific area of the city and then another image to take us into the all-night diner.  Talking about how the city looks like a single animal, actually he uses the word ‘entity’ rather than ‘animal’ so alive but not alive. Except for the bird he doesn’t actually use an animal word but far less specific words such as ‘entity’ and ‘organisms’.

The way this is written, I feel, it could almost translate directly to a movie.  The scenes are described so perfectly they would need very few additions. One thing I would suggest would be to make a clock very similar in style to the chapter headings and have that as a recurring image in every scene, just in the background.