Friday 3 May 2013

Underground by Haruki Murakami - Book Review

Title: Underground
Author: Haruki Murakami
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: 2003 (1997)
Pages: 309
Format: Paperback
Genre: Non-Fiction
 Source: Xmas Gift

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In spite of the perpetrators' intentions, the Tokyo gas attack left only twelve people dead, but thousands were injured and many suffered serious after-effects. Murakami interviews the victims to try and establish precisely what happened on the subway that day. He also interviews members and ex-members of the doomsdays cult responsible, in the hope that they might be able to explain the reason for the attack and how it was that their guru instilled such devotion in his followers. (Goodreads Synopsis)

Underground is a serious piece of journalism and not the usual Murakami fare. I'm too young to really have picked up on anything about the gas attacks when they happened, so I came to this book with no preconceptions. I found it a very interesting and fairly harrowing read as I went through the stories of those caught upon in the tragic events. I found the interviews with the Aum people later in the book a little duller; although, I can see why Murakami would want to include them and it does give the book balance.

I got this impression I was missing certain nuances, knowing so little of Japanese culture, but this was still a moving and memorable read.

Not for everyone perhaps, but I'd recommend it to those interested in more modern history.

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