Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Review: Underground by Haruki Murakami

Title: Underground
Author: Haruki Murakami
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Vintage
Publish Date: September 2003

What's the Story?:

From "In spite of the perpetrators' intentions, the Tokyo gas attack left only twelve people dead, but thousands were injured and many suffered serious after-effects. Murakami interviews the victims to try and establish precisely what happened on the subway that day. He also interviews members and ex-members of the doomsdays cult responsible, in the hope that they might be able to explain the reason for the attack and how it was that their guru instilled such devotion in his followers."

My Two Cents:

Before reading "Underground," I had never read any non-fiction from Haruki Murakami. His fiction books are some of my favorites and if you know Murakami, you know that magical realism is part of so many of his fiction books so I was interested to see how his non-fiction was where there wouldn't be any magical realism.

This book is about the sarin gas attacks that happened in Tokyo in the mid-nineties. I vaguely remember when this happened but was quite young so I didn't really understand what had happened. As a frequent rider of public transportation now, this event still makes me quite fearful. As Murakami points out, it is still very much on the minds of the Japanese people as well. Murakami interviews various people that were affected in the gas attack. He also interviews some of the cult members and former cult members that carried out this horrendous event. These people come from all walks of life and were affected in different ways, which really gave me a well-rounded perspective of what the event meant as a whole to the populace of Japan.

Even after the event occurred, so many of the victims faced issues. Many of them were affected by the gas and it changed the way they were able to function and interact with the world. I was struck by the lack of understanding that the victims faced from those around them who were not directly affected by the attacks. Murakami looks at this event from all angles to help readers understand the human side of this event. A good read!



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