Essay on Haruki Murakami’s “After the Quake”

The motif of the vanishing person is in evidence again in After the Quake. In the collection’s first story, ” UFO in Kushiro” Komura is just an ordinary guy who works as a salesman at a high-fi equipment store in Tokyo. One day his wife, who had been obsessively watching the earthquake coverage on TV for five days, writes a succinct good-bye note and leaves. Until then Komura had been content. He didn’t ask for big things or ask big questions. 

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In a wonderfully intimate and poignant passage reflecting on marriage, Murakami writes, “Still, though he did not quite understand why, Komura always felt his tension dissipate when he and his wife were together under one roof; it was the only time he could truly relax. He slept well with her, undisturbed by the strange dreams that had troubled him in the past. His erections were hard; his sex life was warm. He no longer had to worry about death or venereal disease or the vastness of the universe.”

The wife, who galvanizes change and evidences the fragile and tenuous bonds of relationships in Murakami’s work, leaves a note: “I am never coming back … you have nothing inside you that you can give me … living with you is like living with a chunk of air.” Komura is set adrift from his moorings, holding a small, mysterious package that he’s meant to deliver to a stranger, a package that just might contain a chunk of air–or the missing part of his own spirit–or perhaps something else.

‘Landscape with Flatiron’ is a story about an artist Miyake and his friend Junko. Miyake is afraid of death and has a strange fantasy about suffocating in a fridge.  Yong Junko falls in love with the death wish of Miyake who likes to burn driftwood on the beach. Their talks are about lives but their thoughts are about death and that’s what joins them together. The  girl was tired of empty relationship, she is very depressed and alienated. Miyake professionally makes bonfires and watches them together with his soul mate.

The girl left her home and Miyake is avoiding his family in Kobe. Their individual stories make the special link between them.

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