THE STRANGE LIBRARY
BY HARUKI MURAKAMI
I bought this book the day after I got made redundant from my library job. For twelve years I thought I had worked in a strange library – but thankfully not as dark and sinister as Murkami’s one!
‘The Strange Library’ is a fully illustrated and beautifully designed book. I loved the nostalgic old school library ticket on the front cover and the tagline on the back cover which simply read; “All I did was go to the library to borrow a book.” I’m a real library lover and can be a bit of a geek about it so although I have only ever managed to dip in and out of Murakami, I sensed I might like this! The illustrations inside enhanced this psychedelic tale providing a unique visual enjoyment alongside the text. I found the drawings, some of which are marbled papers and old pages from books found in The London Library, to be simultaneously odd and fun.
But what’s it about? Well that is a good question! A small boy goes to the public library to borrow a book, once there he is taken to an underground reading room by a cruel old man. There he is locked in a cell by a “Sheep-man” and is instructed to memorise two large books to secure his freedom otherwise his brains will get eaten and something gross about caterpillars will happen to the likeable Sheep-man. There is also a beautiful girl who has had her voicebox “destroyed,” a giant pet starling and of course the Sheep-man makes the best doughnuts the boy has ever tasted.
It’s a magical, creepy tale told in Murakami’s trademark beautiful sentences. A fantasy, dreamlike and nightmarish story about childhood fears and loneliness (as I read it). I found it to be a short, really delightful one-sitting read. I’d recommend it to lovers of all things library related, bibliophiles who like to collect good-looking books for their shelves and of course to Murakami completists.
SOUTHSEA BOOKWORN RATING: 8/10
Notes on the author – Haruki Murakami:
- Born in Kyoto in 1949, now lives near Tokyo
- He is the author of many novels as well as short stories and non-fiction
- His works include Kafka On The Shore, 1Q8A and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running