- Amir Steklov
South of the Border, West of the Sun - (1992)
Author: Haruki Murakami.
This novella is very refreshing when doing a Murakami marathon.
After reading Norwegian Wood, this comes as a relaxation, maybe like a cheap dessert after a good meal.
The main character is different than the "usual" Murakami narrator in most books: Hajime is a little bit less intelligent, has more opinions, successful business man. Which makes him interesting after reading so many novels about the same ol' smart and confused young man without opinions.
With that said, the female characters are lacking personalities. Only at the scene when Shimamoto is releasing the ash of her baby to the sea I felt her deeply.
The main theme of this novella is regret and learning how to get better and not repeating those mistakes. Hajime hurts women but he doesn't take it for granted, he feels guilty and learns at the end how to take responsibility for his actions.
The novella also reminded me of 1Q84, in both books there is a story about unconditional first love and a search after it many years later. I liked this Novella better than 1Q84, mostly because the main male character is more interesting and because its ending is not a childish naïve fairytale like 1Q84 - though it is a good ending nevertheless.
Verdict: 4 / 5 ★ - Very good.