Murakami's novels go to the heart of the dysfunction that led to Fukushima: government control of the media, repression of the past, hidden violence and a near total lack of accountability. Murakami's writings make it clear that 3/11 was no accident. His characters are looking for answers without any map to rely on. The female narrator who reads Aomame's part is amateurish. I've taken to skipping her side and reading the book instead. The male narrator who reads Tengo's half is quite good.
The whole novel is one big cliche, but it is a well written one, and doesn't claim to be anything more, so there's nothing not to like. The "hidden" are clearly based on the Hidden Christians, who went underground after Hideyoshi's brutal repression and expulsion of the Portuguese missionaries in the 16th century. Their descendants still exist today on the islands off Kyushu. The grisly descriptions of Iida's torture techniques are no exaggeration. For a truly brilliant novelistic account of this episode in Japanese history read Shusaku Endo's Silence.
I can't help commenting on the narrator's pronunciation of Iida's name. It sounds like he has something caught in his throat when he stops between the two i's. Same with his pronunciation of Kaede. He has clearly studied Japanese pronunciation, because everything else is fine. I wonder how he missed this. Of course, the setting is technically not Japan, so I guess it is possible that he knowingly chose to depart from standard Japanese. But why? I don't get it.
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