A short, sleek novel of encounters set in the witching hours of Tokyo between midnight and dawn, and every bit as gripping as Haruki Murakamiâ€™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 Dennyâ€™s into lives radically alien to her own: those of a jazz trombonist who claims theyâ€™ve met before; a burly female â€œlove hotelâ€ manager and her maidstaff; and a Chinese prostitute savagely brutalized by a businessman. These â€œnight peopleâ€ 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 Yuriâ€™s slumberâ€“mysteriously tied to the businessman plagued by the mark of his crime â€“ 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 â€“ the interplay between self-expression and understanding, between the power of observation and the scope of compassion and love. Murakamiâ€™s trademark humor, psychological insight, and grasp of spirit and morality are here distilled with an extraordinary, harmonious mastery.
â€œEyes 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 creatureâ€“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 cityâ€™s moan, a monotonous sound that neither rises nor falls but is pregnant with foreboding.â€
â€”from After Dark