Page Turner: South of the Border, West of the Sun

I don’t tend to read books about interpersonal relationships. However, After reading four of Haruki Murakami’s books last year, I thought it was worth a shot.

Growing up in a small town, Hajime was the single only child. That is until Shimamoto arrives. The two quickly become childhood best friends but lose touch when they go their separate ways to different High Schools. The years go by, and while things have fallen into a decent place for Hajime, he can’t help but miss her.

When it seems that they will never reunite, she walks back into his life. Is he willing to sacrifice the future for the past?

I was informed that Murakami is akin to literary marmite, you either love him or hate him. Five books deep into his work, I can say with ease that I love him. Even in a lower-stakes novel such as South of the Border, West of the Sun I could not put it down. His way of writing is downright hypnotic to me. Only he could make me become compelled to read about a nearly 40-year-old man’s existential romance.

Near enough every character in this book isn’t exactly a good person. However, the book doesn’t try to excuse that. They are flawed humans, they have good aspects to them but also questionable parts too. Our lead is a good dad but does lust over another woman. Hajime has a questionable relationship with the women in his life, to put it mildly. Something he semi-admits to himself. It isn’t something he intends to do, and he does show remorse in some fashion. 

I don’t tend to care for characters like him, but I found him oddly compelling. He is going through an existential crisis when the plot truly gets going. While on paper his life is good with two daughters and a loving wife, doing more than well financially, he seems lost in the past. Unable to forget the woman who was, in one way or another, his first love. So while I don’t condone his actions, sometimes I could see where he was coming from even though I thought it was kind of a rotten thing to do. 

Shimamoto is an intriguing woman, to say the least. She is charming, clever and witty, yet that is more or less everything we know about her. There is a thick fog of mystery around Shimamoto for the entire novel. By the end, we still only have scraps of information about her. Usually, this would infuriate me, but I loved it here. It worked with the style of story Murakami was telling.

Overall, I enjoyed it. South of the Border, West of the Sun is a bit lower stakes than my regular reading, but dramatic and intriguing. It is a novel about love, lust and consequences. 

One thought on “Page Turner: South of the Border, West of the Sun

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: