Haruki Murakami’s commentary on life ‘Truth is stranger than fiction, especially when the fiction is based on the truth based on fiction’ is in sync with the concept of Hard-boiled wonderland and the End of the World (originally Sekai no owari to Hādo-Boirudo Wandārando and 世界の終りとハードボイルド・ワンダーランド in Japanese.)
This 1985 novel written by Haruki Murakami which was later published in English in 1991 translated by Alfred Birnbaum got him the Tanizaki Prize in 1985.
Haruki sama’s book Hard boiled wonderland and the End of the World worked its way through one’s sub-conscious mind, forcing one to wonder whether your imagination is reality or the fact that what one perceives as reality, in reality is a figment of one’s imagination! This is a pretty scary though when you read it through the lines, but one read of this book you will understand this and when you finally realise this, this is an even scarier reality.
Enough of brain decapacitators from me, Murakami san has a much more complex and mind boggling takes of life, imagination and sub-consciousness.
Every odd chapter relates to Hard boiled wonderland which is set in reality where the narrator is a genius Calcutec, who is a human data-interpreter and an encryptor of information who works for the quasi-governmental System. He is summoned by an old man (a scientist) who is working on sound- removal. The old man has his laboratory in Tokyo’s sewer system so as to protect his research from the Semiotecs, who work for the factory and try to steal information from the Calcutecs. The underground research lab is a safe-house from the INKlings (Infra- Nocturnal Kappa) which live in the dark and are repelled by the device invented by the old scientist. As the story unfolds the narrator has an ever-hungry librarian with a rather large appetite as his girlfriend for 48 hours.
All the even numbered chapters’ deal with The End of the World, a strange town surrounded by a wall and has only one gate while the other gate was blocked with a map at the beginning of the book. This is a town where the narrator is cut-off from his shadow who now lives in the Shadow grounds out of the town with no recollection of his past and how he ended up in the town. He is given the job of a dream reader by the gate-keeper. His job is to read the dreams from the skulls of unicorns. The narrator falls in love with the librarian of the town whom in many instances says that he feels that he knew her.
Both the storylines converge in due time unravelling concept of escapism, the sub-conscious mind and ends in a manner that forces the reader to delve into thought.
No kind of summary can give justice to this book, each time (by each time I mean 3 times) I read this book, new neural connections in my head bring out new theories. Every time I read Hard boiled wonderland and the End of the World, I felt as if I was reading a new novel which ended differently. The words in print may be the same, it’s the words in my mind that give life and a new plot to this ingenious story.
Each of the three theories that popped into my head was fascinating and imperative to my personal life and my thinking style. Each theory I worked up is important in its own way and makes me wonder if any of my versions was the one Murakami san had in mind while penning this book down.
There is so much to discuss about this story, but I don’t like spoilers when I read anything and neither do I wish to spoil others reading experience. I’d love to discuss this with anyone and would be welcome to do so in the comments.
This book has so many elements like magic, mystery, Science fiction concepts, conceits, deceits, love, gangsters, sub-conscious mind and unicorns! All these crammed into one book with two seemingly parallel storylines live up to Murakami’s name as he wonderfully portrayed all these in a simple, suave manner that keeps the reader riveted and also wakes up the readers’ imagination.
Murakami sama wonderfully moulded the story with no names for any of the characters instead referred to each one with a general description as ‘the gate-keeper’, the ‘chubby girl’, the ‘librarian’ with great descriptions which are mellow and thought provoking.
Would I recommend it?
A yes! Any day, anytime anywhere … Yes!
I can say that if one’s imagination on any normal day be picturised as a potato, and the state while reading of Hard boiled wonderland and the End of the World would be a potato with limbs and holding its hat so that it doesn’t fly off the slide in a waterpark in search of its swimsuit which it lost some time ago while flirting with a beautiful female potato in the slide next to his!
This, in short is a must-read!
Rating index: 4.5/5
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