- After the Quake, Haruki Murakami
- Twenty-Four Eyes, by Sakae Tsuboi
- Tales of Moonlight and Rain, by Akinari Ueda
- Knit Kimono, by Vicki Square
“From the time she was born Tsugumi was ridiculously frail, and she had a whole slew of ailments and defects. Her doctors announced that she would die young, and her family began preparing for the worst. Of course everyone around her spoiler her like you wouldn’t believe. Her mother carted her around to hospitals all across Japan, not sparing any effort, offering up every ounce of her strength to try and extend Tsugumi’s life even just a little. And so as Tsugumi toddled her unsteady way towards adulthood, she developed a personality that was just as pushy and insolent as it could be.”The narrator of this story is Maria, Tsugumi’s cousin. Despite Tsugumi’s unpleasant personality, the two grow to be very close friends. Goodbye, Tsugumi is the story of the last summer they spend at the seaside town where they were born and grew up. Maria returns after having moved to Tokyo with her family, and Tsugumi is stoon to leave because her parents are going to sell their inn and open a pension in the mountains.
Summer was coming. Yes, summer was about to begin. A season that would come and go only once, and never return again. All of us understood that very well, and yet we would probably just pass our days the way we always had. And this made the tickling of time feel slightly more tense than in the old days, infused it with a hint of distress. We could all feel this as we sat there that evening, together. We could feel it so clearly that it made us sad, and yet at the same time we were extremely happy.But there are, of course, issues other than the summer coming to an end at stake in this story. There’s growing up, and becoming distant from people who once filled your whole life. And there’s mortality, as Tsugumi’s frail health makes her, and those who surround her, deeply aware of death, and constantly unsure of whether each passing day will be her last.
Right around the time when the hustle and bustle of preparations for the festival take a hold of the town, all of a sudden you find yourself noticing that autumn had begun to weave itself into the rhythm of your days. The sun is still just as strong as before, but the breeze blowing in off the sea has turned just the tiniest bit softer, and the sand has cooled. Now the rain that quietly drenches the boats ranges along the beach carries the damp, misty smell of a cloudy sky. You realize that summer has turned its back on you.
"Strange and mysterious things, though, aren't they -- earthquakes?" the man says. "We take it for granted that the earth beneath our feet is solid and stationary. But suddenly one day . . . the earth, the boulders, that are supposed to be so solid, all of a sudden turn as mushy as liquid."Murakami, in these six short stories, writes about the emotional upheavals and after-effects that follow a major disaster. Lives are changed in little and in big ways, and he writes about individuals that are searching for themselves and for meaning in a world changed by disaster. And I liked this comment from an unofficial, but very interesting, Murakami web site:
But the most compelling character of all is the earthquake itself--slipping into and out of view almost imperceptibly, but nonetheless reaching deep into the lives of these forlorn citizens of the apocalypse. The terrible damage visible all around is, in fact, less extreme than the inconsolable howl of a nation indelibly scarred--an experience in which Murakami discovers many truths about compassion, courage, and the nature of human suffering.After the Quake was well-written and powerful. I will definitely read more of Murakami's books.
When we discover that the crossfire is between the victim and the criminal, between the law and those who have taken it upon themselves to deliver justice, we're faced with two critical questions:
Does anyone have the right to kill another?
Is there ever a right reason to take a life?
I found this book profound on many levels, not only as a mystery/thriller, but also a treatise on ethics. It was excellent.