Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Strange Library

- Haruki Murakami (Translated by Ted Goossen)

Strange library looks like a love child of coffee table book and a pop-up greeting card. The book is is just fifty odd pages with bizarre illustrations and large font text. That is where the associations end. With coffee table books and usual Murakami stories. Of course this book has a weird story, unique characters, surreal environment, suspended reality and all that. But there are no references to music, no puzzling women, clueless men or cats.

This story is about a teenage boy imprisoned in the bowels of a library by a wicked old man who orders the boy to memorize three fat books on Taxation of Ottoman empire or else face a terrible destiny. A man dressed in sheep ( you may know the sheep man from Wild Sheep Chase) takes care of the boy when he is in the prison and a young beautiful girl brings him food. Both of them are hapless prisoners themselves, their situation much more desolate than our hero.

Whatever happens next, did the boy trick the old man and escape? Did he succumb to the fate and stay in the library? You don't have to wait for long to know, the book would end in a few pages. This leaves very little room for character development, internal monologues and philosophies but the book doesn't fail to make an impact.

Libraries looked normal and boring till now, but I wonder what mysteries it has been hiding from me?

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