South of the Border, West of the Sun

Okay, you can say that I’ve been away for 2 months reading this book..and doing other stuff. Haruki Murakami’s novel, South of the Border, West of the Sun was, indeed, very interesting.

I hope you like the book art because I drew it myself! That’s right, it isn’t some photo stolen off of Google. I just added a filter to make the line smoother, and also because the red and navy looks cooler than black and white.

South of the Border, West of the Sun,  published in 1992, has many elements that I enjoyed and related to:

  1. Hajime(the protagonist)’s childhood. Like him, I am also the only child in my family. Sometimes I feel more “spoiled, weak, and self-centered” (5) than my friends who have siblings. Hajime faces more prejudice for being the only child than I did in my childhood. In post-war Japan, families usually had more than one child. This makes him self conscience, which I believe contributes to his precocious personality.
  2. Jazz references. You know a book is good if there are references to Nat King Cole and Casablanca. Jazz music is a motif in this novel, from to the beginning of Hajime and Shimamoto’s friendship to Hajime’s life in his thirties.
  3. Writing style. This book was translated from Japanese but I only found one or two weird English translations. Murakami’s writing style is colloquial; yet, he still manages to create interesting lines.

The plot is based on the friendship and the everlasting love between Hajime and Shimamoto, from elementary school to their thirties. Shimamoto is a mysterious woman who comes and goes as she pleases. Hajime, in his thirties, realizes he still loves her. I am annoyed because Hajime’s orderly life is disturbed by her enigma. Then again, this is the point of the book, to show that you can’t undo true love. Aw so cute.

The title of this book is brilliant. The “South of the Border” is a reference to a jazz song about Mexico.

“South of the border, down mexico way
That’s where they fell in love when stars above came out to play” -Patsy Cline from “South of the Border”

“West of the Sun” refers to the Siberian hysteria. Farmers who were stuck in an everlasting cycle of labour and hardship suddenly felt compelled to search for paradise west of the sun; this led to their death. I don’t want to spoil the book so I am going to leave you at this brief explanation of the novel’s title.

Please leave me a comment if my understanding of the book is off. I don’t want to misinform people. Also, leave a comment if you get what I am trying to show in my drawing. 🙂

Until next time, bye!

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