South of the Border West of the Sun

South of the Border, West of the Sun (1992) by Haruki Murakami is a sad, short, sweet book about love and the way lives go. The book is reminiscent of Murakami’s best known work Norwegian Wood.

In the book the protagonist, Hajime, as a child has an intense relationship with Shimamoto. The two part ways and we follow Hajime as he quickly grows up, gets a job, gets married and has children. Then he meets Shimamoto again and their bond causes tension in Hajime’s life.

The book echoes Norwegian Wood in that the protagonist has an intense relationship and other relationships that are not as intense. In some ways the book can be seen to be slightly misogynistic and uncaring about women. Norwegian Wood seems like one take on the situation with a different ending while South of the Border, West of the Sun is another.

Norwegian Wood is the better book, but South of the Border, West of the Sun is worth reading. Murakami’s other books that deal with very different situations, such as the highly amusing Kafka on the Shore are probably better reads.

3/5

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2 responses to “South of the Border West of the Sun

  1. Wow, I didn’t find it misogynist at all, and I usually have a pretty good radar for misogyny – what did you think made it uncaring?

    I didn’t much care for Kafka on the Shore, I thought it was a bit silly and too long.

  2. Hijame goes through women for a while and his treatment of his wife isn’t really caring.

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