Sunday, 18 October 2009

Underground by Haruki Murakami

In the morning of Monday 20th of March of 1995 a group of members of the religious cult Aum Shinrikyo put several packs of sarin, a poison gas, in the Tokyo’s subway system.

As a result twelve people died and hundred were wounded.

The Japanese well-known writer Haruki Murakami, author of novels such as The Wind Up Bird Chronicle or Norwegian Wood, was shocked by this news and decided to write about it.

This book is the result of his work. In my opinion the book is divided in three parts. The first one is shaped by the testimony of some of the victims. The second one is a transition between the first one and the third one. In it Mr Murakami explain his
reasons to write this book and try to justify why he has included the last part. As the writer says since the subtitle of his book “The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche” he is not only interested in knowing more about the terrorist attack but he want to make the following question: Does all Japanese society reflected in what happened this day?

Moreover he, as a novelist, is interested in the fact that people need to built “narratives” to explain their lifes. This idea has interesting consequences as the following paragraph shows:

“Haven’t you offered up some part of your Self to someone (or something), and taken on a “narrative” in return? Haven’t we entrusted some part of our personality to some greater System or Order? And if so, has not that System at some stage demanded of us some kind of “insanity”? Is the narrative you now possess really and truly you own? Are you dreams really your own dreams? Might not they be someone else’s visions that could sooner or later return into nightmares?”

The last part of the book is shaped by the testimony of some members of the group Aum Shinrikyo. It is not about to understand their reasons. It is only for knowing how ordinary people can join an organization like this.

Although I recommend you this book, I have to warn you that this is not another Murakami’s novel but an essay really hard because is about a terrible terrorist attack.

I wait for your comments.
Thanks in advance

1 comment:

  1. I've heard so many mixed reviews about this book, which is actually one of the reasons that I haven't read it yet.
    I think you're right, though, that it just needs to be approached from a different point of view. I think i will check it out.
    Thanks for the review!