after the quake


Five straight days she spent in front of the television, staring at crumbled banks and hospitals, whole blocks of stores in flames, severed rail lines and expressways.

Thus opens Haruki Murakami's story collection After the Quake, which I checked out of the library on Thursday. I'd been curious to read Murakami's work after a friend's recommendation, and Quake was the only title left in the library the day I happened by.

The next day, I heard the news about the 8.9 earthquake in Japan (apparently now rated 9.0), and my selection of the book seemed eerily prescient. The stories revolve around the months following the 1995 Kobe earthquake, and though I haven't read through all of them yet, they're intriguing, poignant, and melancholy. There's an interesting relationship in how Murakami places these intimate, character-driven stories against the backdrop of a massive natural disaster, and I can only wonder about the people in Japan right now-- not just in terms of numbers and statistics, but as people leading everyday lives amid staggering circumstances.

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