After Dark

Publisher: Anchor Canada
A short, sleek novel of encounters set in the witching hours of Tokyo between midnight and dawn, and every bit as gripping as Haruki Murakami’s masterworks The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Kafka on the Shore.

At its center are two sisters: Yuri, a fashion model sleeping her way into oblivion; and Mari, a young student soon led from solitary reading at an anonymous Denny’s into lives radically alien to her own: those of a jazz trombonist who claims they’ve met before; a burly female “love hotel” manager and her maidstaff; and a Chinese prostitute savagely brutalized by a businessman. These “night people” are haunted by secrets and needs that draw them together more powerfully than the differing circumstances that might keep them apart, and it soon becomes clear that Yuri’s slumber–mysteriously tied to the businessman plagued by the mark of his crime – will either restore or annihilate her.

After Dark moves from mesmerizing drama to metaphysical speculation, interweaving time and space as well as memory and perspective into a seamless exploration of human agency – the interplay between self-expression and understanding, between the power of observation and the scope of compassion and love. Murakami’s trademark humor, psychological insight, and grasp of spirit and morality are here distilled with an extraordinary, harmonious mastery.

“Eyes mark the shape of the city. Through the eyes of a high-flying night bird, we take in the scene from midair. In our broad sweep, the city looks like a single gigantic creature–or more, like a single collective entity created by many intertwining organisms. Countless arteries stretch to the ends of its elusive body, circulating a continuous supply of fresh blood cells, sending out new data and collecting the old, sending out new consumables and collecting the old, sending out new contradictions and collecting the old. To the rhythm of its pulsing, all parts of the body flicker and flare up and squirm. Midnight is approaching, and while the peak of activity has indeed passed, the basal metabolism that maintains life continues undiminished, producing the basso continuo of the city’s moan, a monotonous sound that neither rises nor falls but is pregnant with foreboding.”
—from After Dark


Chapter One: 11:56 p.m.

Eyes mark the shape of the city.

Through the eyes of a high-flying night bird, we take in the scene from midair. In our broad sweep, the city looks like a single gigantic creature—or more like a single collective entity created by many intertwining organisms. Countless...
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"After Dark reminds us of the risks, innovation and disquiet that underpin [Murakami’s] success. . . . In Murakami’s fictional world forests are imposing, gardens are strange and playgrounds are surprisingly serious places."
The Times

"Haruki Murakami’s new novel is a dense exploration of time and place, identity and possibility. . . . Murakami’s gift is that his bizarre and disconnected universe makes intuitive sense; his playful touch and deep compassion for the isolated human state lend his words a joyful, colourful tint. This is a complex work by a thinker who, like his characters, defies definition."
Sunday Times (UK)

"After Dark rides in the strong wake of Kafka on the Shore."
The Globe and Mail

"After Dark is possibly the closest Murakami has yet come to composing a pure tone-poem. . . . A story that spells out less but evokes as much if not more. . . . The novel could be an allegory of sleep, a phenomenology of time, or a cinematic metafiction. Whatever it is, the memory lingers."

"By writing about the mysteries of the night with nothing but specifics, Murakami makes the nightscape as vivid as a dream. . . . After Dark is one to keep by the bedside table, the perfect insomniac’s companion."

"It’s Haruki Murakami; there’s no hurry. The familiar drowsy jazz bars, enigmatic females and affable, directionless males are out in force and so is the writer’s irresistible easygoing style, gliding us through the darkest passages of a Tokyo night, where ennui is peppered with uncanny occurrences and a flash of horrific violence. . . . Murakami is clearly in love with the off-kilter melodies of the city at night."

"You’d be hard pressed to find a writer who offers a more convincing evocation of contentment than Murakami. . . . While his new novel, After Dark, might seem slight . . . it shares with his other work a deeply satisfying sense of having engaged the world . . . and been rewarded by everyday pleasures, and the unexpectedness of strangers."

"After Dark is a bittersweet novel that will satisfy the most demanding literary taste. It is a sort of neo-noir flick set in half-empty diners, dark streets and hotel rooms straight out of the paintings of Edward Hopper. . . . Like the work of the Chilean Roberto Bolaño or the Italian Roberto Calasso, Murakami’s fiction reminds us the world is broad, that myths are universal — and that while we sleep, the world out there is moving in mysterious and unpredictable ways."
San Francisco Chronicle

"A streamlined, hushed ensemble piece built on the notion that very late at night, after the lamps of logic have been snuffed and rationality has shut its eyes, life on earth becomes boundariless and blurred. . . . It is when his technique is inconspicuous and not when he’s waving his wand above the hat that Murakami’s spell is most persuasive."
The New York Times Book Review

"Only a novelist of Haruki Murakami’s stature would be so bold (or humorous) to begin a literary examination of the human soul in a setting as soulless as a Denny’s restaurant."
New York Post

"Murakami’s spare, intense prose is at once funny, sad, complicated, simple and utterly engrossing."
New York Post

"Ever since the Japanese writer began publishing in America . . . Murakami has been out front, riding the zeitgeist, investing his work with an aura of the surreal, uncanny and fantastic. . . . After Dark is a short book, hypnotically eerie, full of noirish foreboding, sometimes even funny, but, most of all, it’s one that keeps ratcheting up the suspense."
Washington Post