My son Andreas has an interest in Haruki Murakami’s book and borrowed this when he was searching for another of his book. I suspect this is written for children although it’s placed in the adults section.
The book is short and is accompanied by many full page coloured illustrations, almost like a picture book for third graders. I found the story amusing and am curious what my nine years old nephew would think of it.
A boy goes to return a book at the library and is directed to a strange room for assistance when he enquired about some books on tax collection in the Ottoman Empire. Strangely, the old man in the room finds the books he wanted but locks the boy up as a prisoner, and will only free him when he finishes the book. Although he pleads to be let go, as his mother would be worried and his pet starling might die, the old man refuses, thus begins the boy’s adventure as he plots with the other prisoners – a man dressed in sheep wool and a beautiful girl, to escape.
I thought this book is a wonderful book to introduce Murakami to my nephew as well as a simple reminder to me on what constitutes a good short story – a likeable protagonist with an active purpose and beautiful proses filled with details and metaphors.
I could also identify with the boy’s mother, whom he describes as the type of mother who when something happens she imagines the worst, and it snowballs from there. Just like me. When my husband failed to return to our Penang hotel room at 1am one night, I imagined the following scenario -him falling into a drain and being unconscious (he often falls on holiday), he’s robbed of everything including his phone (this is Malaysia after all) or he’s murdered by the robbers.
This was, of course, my imagination running wild.