This was my third Murakami book (after Kafka on the Shore and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running), and I found it to be quite a departure from the dream-like fantasy and World War II themes for which he is renowned. South of the Border, West of the Sun is more contemporary and focuses on complications in intimate human relationships. This novel is an intensely sensual tale about a nearly middle-aged Japanese man (Hajime) going down an emotional rabbit hole due to a “midlife crisis” triggered by the re-appearance of Shimamoto, his long-lost love from his childhood. Despite it’s emotional intensity, South of the Border, West of the Sun reads very easily. Like smooth Jazz music, to which the lead character repeatedly refers, it slowly draws you in until it reaches it’s denouement. What struck me most about South of the Border, West of the Sun was the main character’s obsession with his paramour, Shimamoto, which embroils him in a web of deceit and leaves him adrift in confusion about the meaning of his life. For me, the narrative comes across as being very realistic and relatable especially from a male perspective. I suspect Murakami has infused this novel with some of his personal experiences since he was once a jazz club owner in Tokyo, like the protagonist in the story. Ultimately, South of the Border, West of the Sun is a vivid reminder of how messy and muddled intimate human relationships can be. I would highly recommend this book for someone interested in exploring Murakami’s broad body of literary work.
Have you read South of the Border, West of the Sun or another of Murakami’s books or essays? What resonated most with you in his writing? Please feel free to share your thoughts in a comment below. Thanks as always for visiting my blog! Also, if you would like to receive more updates about my writing please consider joining my newsletter mailing list by subscribing below