Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami

HardBoiled WonderlandWhat a fantastic book. After reading Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, I feel like I’ve entered a stranger’s dreamscape yet I feel like it exists even within my own subconscious. There’s something familiar and compelling about Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, but with its many intricate and precise details, I am still trying to gather my thoughts about this novel. Nonetheless, I’m going to try my best and review Hard-boiled Wonderland.

Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami follows two narratives – one a dreamy exploration of the ‘subconscious’, taking place at the ‘End of the World’, that is suspended from reality; the other a sentimental but hard analysis of life in ‘reality’, taking place in underground Kafkaesque Tokyo – and portrays an elegant unfolding of what happens when these two worlds meld together, becoming increasingly familiar with each other.

I have no idea where to begin with this book. My previous experiences with Murakami – Norwegian Wood, South of the Border West of the Sun and Sputnik Sweetheart – analyzed the subconscious on an emotional, sentimental level. Hard-boiled Wonderland and Murakami’s ingenuity cannot be conveyed with mere words; Hard-Boiled Wonderland is a unique experience. There’s something extremely raw and profound in the feelings and thoughts that the narrative elicit. The prose is so immersive that hints of the subconscious – the unicorn skull, the subtle mention of objects, and character’s thoughts – within the ‘reality’ narrative become distinct and familiar because the subconscious of the book enters your own subconscious. And as you flit between subconscious and reality, the reader becomes the superego as you attempt to negotiate between the two.

Perhaps it’s clear from my poor plot summary, but Hard-Boiled Wonderland has a plot that cannot be easily summarized into a few words. It is nuanced and detailed, and as the reader, you ultimately choose what is meaningful and what is not; every reader will experience Hard-Boiled Wonderland differently, and what emerges or elicits feelings of familiarity will differ from reader to reader. For me, Hard-Boiled Wonderland was a contemplative story about our inner struggle to seek meaning in life and our existence. The writing integrates a blend of philosophies and perspectives, and is filled with the mundane, farce, fantasy and analyses of the human condition, in which the themes bleed into one another to produce an intricate novel. Hard-Boiled Wonderland is both perplexing and thought-provoking.

After finishing Hard-Boiled Wonderland, I felt like I’ve read the heart and soul of Murakami’s works. Surreal, challenges boundaries between real and subconscious, and transcendental, Hard-Boiled Wonderland is a fantastic book and truly, as what they call, a tour de force.

Rating: 4.5/5

Book Information
Book Name: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Author: Haruki Murakami
Publisher: Vintage
Pages: 400

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2 thoughts on “Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami

  1. A wonderful review. I really need to re-read certain dream-like passages for all the evocative murmurings Murakami draws in this layered story. Have you watched the short anime, Haibane Renmei? It’s influenced by this book but tell its own dream-like story. There are some wonderful parallels between the two.

    • Thank you Glaiza! :’)

      I have to re-read it too. Even now, when I think back to when I read this, I’m astounded by how softly it crept up on me. Reading it for the second time, knowing the ending, would be a very different experience to reading it the first time.

      I haven’t! But it sounds like something I’d like, and I’ll certainly add it to my to-watch. Thank you!

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