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South of the Border, West of the Sun

A Novel
Narrated by: Eric Loren
Length: 6 hrs and 33 mins
4 out of 5 stars (378 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

South of the Border, West of the Sun is the beguiling story of a past rekindled, and one of Haruki Murakami’s most touching novels.

Hajime has arrived at middle age with a loving family and an enviable career, yet he feels incomplete. When a childhood friend, now a beautiful woman, shows up with a secret from which she is unable to escape, the fault lines of doubt in Hajime’s quotidian existence begin to give way. Rich, mysterious, and quietly dazzling, in South of the Border, West of the Sun the simple arc of one man’s life becomes the exquisite literary terrain of Murakami’s remarkable genius. 

©2010 Haruki Murakami (P)2013 Random House Audio

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 10-12-13

A River of Unmindfulness

"...the river of Unmindfulness, whose water no vessel can hold; of this they were all obliged to drink a certain quantity, and those who were not saved by wisdom drank more than was necessary; and each one as he drank forgot all things." - Plato

(***1/2) This was not my favorite Murakami, but it was still good, solid (OK, maybe no Murakami novel should be described as anything close to solid) second-shelf Murakami. It felt like a mystical combination of Descartes + Proust. His themes of love, memory, forgetting, the past, reality, etc., were all better developed in some of his other novels ('Kafka on the Shore', 'Wind-Up Bird Chronicle', etc).

Still, there was something haunting and beautiful about the novel. For me, it was a story about the seductive and supernatural/surreal qualities of the past. It is, at heart, a dark love story where a man essentially becomes the lover to (and haunted by) the memory of his childhood sweetheart.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The overlooked gem

This was unavailable in audio for many years. I am happy to see they've finally released it. I've read four Murakami novels and most of the short story collections. I don't think this book is as popular as 'Wind up Bird' and some of the others, but in my own opinion this is his best work. Wind Up Bird and Kafka are paced very slow with chapters and chapters of stuff that is intereting to read, but overall does not contribute to the story. This book is slim, to the point. Wistful romance of the only-child. It is very haunting without trying too hard. I've read the other Murakami novels once, but this book I've read at least five times. I am surprised it is not as popular as his other books. If you already like Murakami, I think you will like this. If you're new to Murakami, I can't think of a better novel to start with.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kazuhiko
  • TUXEDO PARK, NY, United States
  • 03-23-14

Not many metaphors in this book, but it's good

Like "Sputnik Sweetheart", among Murakami's books, this is a "lighter" but very good one, I think. To explain what I mean by "lighter" without mentioning the plot, a metaphor that Murakami used in one of his interviews may help (this was an interview for a Japanese literary journal in 2004; I am translating/para-phrasing - the original was longer):

"Human existence takes place in a "two-story house" (metaphorically, obviously) : the first floor is where people talk to each other; the second floor is where each individual does her/his own things, like reading books or listening to music; then there is the basement where people occasionally visit to reflect or look at things that lay there that are forgotten in daily life; then, below the basement, there is the second basement that most people don't get to visit. There is darkness in the second basement; people see the connections to their past and their souls. The entrance to the second basement is not obvious. You may not come back from there…"

Using this metaphor, the story in "South of the Border, West of the Sun" takes place mostly on the first and second floors and occasionally peeks at the basement. It does not get down to the second basement, I thought. In contrast, "Kafka on the shore" and "The wind-up bird chronicle" definitely spend some time in the second basement. But I don't mind Murakami's stories that take place mostly on the first and second floors, probably because I don't necessarily want to visit the basement or the second basement that often. It's just that it's good to know that Murakami can take me there. Unlike many of Murakami's stories, this book does not contain many metaphors, but I liked it.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • mdk
  • Charlottesville, VA
  • 04-17-15

Great Performance, enjoyable but unsatisfying book

Would you listen to South of the Border, West of the Sun again? Why?

Maybe. The narrator did a fine job

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The overall theme of the book; the big question: 'What if'. The way that question can haunt you.

Which character – as performed by Eric Loren – was your favorite?

The main character.

If you could rename South of the Border, West of the Sun, what would you call it?

'Roads Not Taken' or maybe 'In Search of Lost Loves'

Any additional comments?

The book was intelligent and bravely asked some big questions without being heavy handed about it. The 'getting there' was enjoyable; I love the way Murakami writes and I really did care about all of the characters. The ending, though, left a lot of story points unanswered and that really annoyed me. I know he may have done that on purpose but it still didn't work with me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Realism without the magic, feels just as Murakami

Murakami is known for his magic realism and many people emphasize the magic part of that equation. But it's the realism part I like best. His novels are so real but they also have a dreamlike quality to them which is why I guess his particular brand of magic works so well. Well in this one, it's all real and no magic. But it doesn't suffer one but for it, because while everyone likes to think they like Murakami for the magical/surrealistic/sci-fi elements it's really the realism makes the novels what they are. His simple yet poetic prose, his psychological depth, his vivid observations and perspective on the world. These are what make his novels special. The actual magical elements only accentuate, rather than constitute, the magic that can be found in the everyday and that Murakami so eloquently expresses and represents in his novels. If you can't tell, I'm a fan, and this one did not disappoint.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

South of the Border, West of the Sun

Once again, I came into one of Murakami’s books thinking I might know what to expect and was blown away. Each one has its own world and strange powers, but still there is Murakami’s wonderful style and ability to write us straight into the core of an emotion. I love the way Murakami’s characters go from total strangers and slowly unravel into someone we know intimately. I felt the protagonist’s every emotion and this book left me deeply moved, like I gained something special by reading it. This is art, and those who love to read will recognize it as the very sort of book that makes us fall in love with reading. I hope you get the same things from Murakami’s writing as I do. This is my fifth book of his that I’ve read/listened to and I am hooked. If you loved Norwegian Wood, I think you’ll also find a similar love for this book.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

A bit disappointed

I chose this novel because it had good reviews and was written by an author from, and took place in a world far from mine. As it turns out, my mom who is a few months younger than the main character and grew up in Montana, is way more exotic and interisting as a person.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fans of Murakami Will Not Be Disappointed

I love Haruki Murakami and read everything he writes. I read some reviews saying that "South of the Border, West of the Sun" is not his best work and is therefore not worth reading, but I disagree. My favorite Murakami book is still "Kafka on the Shore," but I found this book to be complex, psychological, entertaining, and well worth my time. Eric Loren gave a brilliant performance as narrator. If you are a fan of Murakami's work, then I highly recommend this lovely little book.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Languid dialog and awkward sex

The worst aspects of Murakami's writing woven through a convoluted and often boring story full of unlikable characters.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

ok

this took a while to get into... my least favourite of his books so far but it gets better as it goes on.