South of the Border, West of the Sun is filled with love and regret and loneliness and human fallibility and physical disability, all of which are perennial staples in Murakami’s novels.
These are all masterfully crafted into a straight-forward story but with beautifully evoked feelings that resonate with everyone. We all think about “the one that got away” or the path we did not take or the mistake we made or the lies we keep to ourselves to try and get through the next day and not hurt the people we are supposed to care about.
The novel features a thoroughly ordinary man jeopardising his comfortable and reassuring existence and relationships by pursuing someone from his past that shows up one night at his bar. We can almost see the stale smoke plumes and enjoy the benign jazz tunes emanating from the talented quartet in the near empty bar.
We are rooting for the ordinary man to do the right thing, but his sheer fragility, selfishness and inherent humanness compel him to pursue something that he knows will hurt others.
As ever, Murakami’s writing is accessible and compelling and in no time at all, we reach the last page, hoping against hope that the ordinary man, Hajime, has learned valuable lessons from the self-inflicted torment he has caused.
This novel will make you think and feel and appreciate the greatness of this master story-teller.
Well worth a read.