ISBN-13: 9780099448570
Publisher: Vintage
Published: 2003
187 pgs

This is the first book I read by this author. After hearing so many ravings from fellow bookbloggers, I figure it is about time I need to read a Haruki Murakami's book.

Hajime is a middle-age man who has what every man would consider a dream: a loving wife, two lovely daughters and a successful owner of two bars. But deep inside his heart, he always feels something is missing. Or perhaps he still could not forget his childhood friend, a lonely girl named Shimamoto.

Hajime, being the only child in the family, knows that no other friends of his would be able to understand the loneliness and how he felt being the only child. He befriended Shimamoto in elementary school, and he is kind of attracted to her because she seemed so positive and determined even though she is a handicapped. She caught polio after she was born so that made her drag her left leg. Another thing is, Shimamoto is the only child in the family too and both of them love books and music. It is no wonder they would be attracted to each other as the days passed by.

Then, Shimamoto's family moved away and he lost touch with her. After her leaving, life has became a blur to him. He drifted through college, broke a few girls' heart, and get married to his current wife and became a successful bar owner as he is now. Everything looks good to him until Shimamoto began to walk into his life, again.

Shimamoto has become a beautiful woman, and she no longer drag her leg. After seeing her, Hajime no longer feel the emptiness in his heart and is hoping they would rekindle the relationship they had lost so many years ago. Though Shimamoto is more than thrilled to see him again, she does not talk about herself or what had happened to her. Hajime, on the other hand, is blinded by love to probe further and very sure that he could leave everything behind him to be with her. However after a night of passion, Shimamoto vanishes from his life again and this time, Hajime is distraught. What follows is a confession with his wife and his encounter with a girl whom he had broken her heart after Shimamoto that he began to seriously think of his life and how he should live with it.

Haruki Murakami has written a beautiful, bittersweet love story in South of the Border, West of the Sun in a poetic prose. But I think there is much more than the love issue in this tale, it is also about consequences and choice. How many times did we do something and then regretted them over the years? Do you look back or do you move on? I was mesmerized by Haruki's writing throughout the story. I was drawn to the sad, moody 'atmosphere' he created and though it did not give me much thrill as I had anticipated as in his other books (I have Kafka on the Shore, A Wild Sheep Chase and Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman in my TBR pile), it did leave me something to ponder about.
14 Responses
  1. Julia Says:

    The book sound interesting. I love stories like this one. Maybe I get a copy...this in paperback?

  2. Amy Says:

    Sounds like a fantastic read! I've been wanting to read something by this author.

  3. Melody Says:

    Julia - It is! And yes, it's in paperback. :)

    Amy - I enjoyed this book. I'm really looking forward to reading his other books soon! :)

  4. Sandy Nawrot Says:

    More than once I've had one of his books in my hands at the library, then for some reason didn't check it out. I need to make it a goal for myself to some of his work. He sounds phenomenal!

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I haven't read anything by Murakami too. But I have been hearing such great things. I'll have to buy one of his books someday.

  6. mariel Says:

    I have not read Murakami either, and this is not one I'd heard of but sounds lovely. Thanks for the review!

  7. Debi Says:

    I really must get over my fear of Murakami and just give him a try one of these days.

  8. Beth F Says:

    I too haven't read anything by this author, but this book sounds fantastic. I will have to see if my library has it. Great review.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    I haven't read any Haruki Murakami, although he's all over the place. He had an author event not too long ago. But you have sold me this one.

  10. Ana S. Says:

    I decided the other day that this was going to be my next Murakami. Thank you for confirming my decision for me :P This sounds more like Norwegian Wood than his other books. And since that one's my favourite, I'm really looking forward to reading it.

  11. The Bookworm Says:

    great review, this one sounds interesting. I have heard of this author, but havent read him yet.

  12. Melody Says:

    Sandy - Do check out his books next time you visit to the libraries! I think you might like his books. ;)

    Violet - He's one of my favourite authors now. ;)

    Mariel - I really enjoyed this book. Poetic and dreamy-like, both I like in books! :D

    Debi - Oh, you should, Debi! :D

    Beth - Thanks! Yes, do check out his books! I'm starting to collect his other books now, hehe.

    Matt - An author event! How exciting! Unfortunately, there isn't too many of those over here.

    Nymeth - I'm glad to hear you'll be reading this next! I'm hoping to get Norwegian Wood soon. :)

    Naida - Thanks! I hope you'll give him books a try.

  13. Ladytink_534 Says:

    I have a book of short stories by this author that I still haven't read. I think I've actually had it for a year or two now!

  14. Melody Says:

    Jen - I bought a few of his books recently... I just couldn't resist them! LOL.

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