Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Stars: ★★★★

Author: Haruki Murakami

Year: 1985

Country: Japan

Genre: I really don’t know, but according to Wikipedia it is a surrealism novel.

Original Title: 世界の終りとハードボイルド・ワンダーランド


A couple of months ago, my aunt came in a visit and gave me a book by Japanese authour Haruki Murakami. It had a very strange title: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. But let me tell you, the title’s not the only strange thing about this book. Chapters take place alternately in a Tokio with touches of sci-fi (Hard-Boiled Wonderland) and in a walled city sorrounded by unicorns (The End of the World). It may sound weird, but believe me, it’s far much weirder than you can imagine.

My relationship with this book had its ups and downs. It took me like six weeks to read its first half, in part because I was too busy at the time, but also because I couldn’t really get into it. I didn’t find it particularly dull, I guess it’s just that I didn’t understand anything of it and couldn’t find the connection between the two stories. But suddenly, when I had yet a third of the book to read, I started to see how it all made sense and was marvelled by the way the author had saved the last pages to explain everything (or most of it). Besides, at that point of the story, I just couldn’t believe Murakami’s imagination. Really, I wondered, how on earth did he do it? After that, I got so hooked that I finished the book in only a couple of days. However, once I read the end, I was lost again. And to say the truth, I’m still trying to understand the book.

Haruki Murakami

Something that really called my attention was the author’s writing style, basically for three different reasons. First, people do not have names in this book. Well, maybe they do, but they’re not mentioned at any time. Characters are just referred to as the librarian, the fat girl, the professor, or just by saying he, she or them. The second particularity is the excesive use of analogies. The protagonist, who’s also the narrator, makes the most unusual comparisons, and he does it at any opportunity. He compares life with credit cards or the feeling of nostalgia with a closed hotel, as if they were the most obvious relations to make. Though this analogies are weird indeed, and quite recurrent as well, they didn’t bother me at all. In fact, they were very interesting to me, probably because I love doing analogies myself. Finally, another particularity that called my attention is how the protagonist deviates from the red line of the story to say whatever comes to his mind. It made me feel like I was inside his head and could see every single thing into it. Every few pages there’s some very little and insignificant detail that becomes the starting point of a long but at the same time entertaining philosophical thought. The three of these characteristics in the writer’s style (and probably even more that I haven’t seen) may bore and exasparate many readers, though in my case I enjoyed them a lot.

As I said before, I haven’t even understood the book completely, and maybe that’s the whole point of it, I don’t know. I guess I’ll just e-mail my aunt and ask her what she thinks about it. One way or the other, there’s something I cannot deny: this Murakami man is a genius, and I do not regret at all having read his unusual work of art. ☼


– Written by GuadiRC –


6 Responses to Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

  1. Pingback: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World | Glutton for books, movies & series

  2. Ben says:

    Maybe the weirdness is brought by the translation of Japanese to English? I like the idea though of not naming characters. Its unique and that plot point lets you identify a certain author like the way Emma Donoghue did with the “Room”.

    • fictionworms says:

      Mmm, I don’t think that’s the reason. No matter the language in which you read this book, the character will still deviate from the important things to tell you whatever comes to his mind and he will still make the most unusual analogies. Oh, and I didn’t read it in English, I read it in Spanish (my mother tongue).
      I agree with you, those particularities in a writer’s style makes him/her easier to be identified. Like Lemony Snicket, for instance, remember I talked about his style in one of his books’ review? 🙂

    • fictionworms says:

      No, I haven’t read it. In fact the only Murakami book I’ve ever read is the one I reviewed here, but I saw 1Q84 in a bookstore and it called my attention immediately! Later I read that it is called like that because the letter Q in Japanese sounds pretty much like the number 8. I can’t deny I’m curious about that book, but I don’t think I can read many works of that same authour in a row, I’ll wait some time to do that.

      As always, thanks for sharing and commenting! 🙂
      BTW, I’m so sorry I answered so late. Hugs!

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