Author: Haruki Murakami
By Rannia Shehrish
A Wild Sheep Chase:
The first book of the series, A Wild Sheep Chase, a mock-detective tale, shows the world through the eyes of a passionless and indifferent unnamed protagonist living a mediocre existence. Beginning with the death of an old acquaintance and a brief overview of his university days, the story reveals the passive life of the protagonist and his recent divorce, after which he is only attracted to a girl with magically seductive ears who is a part-time proof-reader, commercial model for ear-shots and a very discreet profession.
The ascension to the climax starts off with the introduction of the messenger - a shadowy figure, known as the Boss - who is single-handedly responsible for all of Japan's welfare. Threatened to be financially ruined, the protagonist picks up the dying Boss's quest to find a mysterious sheep marked with a star on its back.
The hunt results in the protagonist meeting several strange characters - an ovine-obsessed professor, a runaway friend and a strange man who dresses as a sheep and talks in slurs - and eventually brings him to confront the confines of tradition and his shallow views.
Dance Dance Dance:
Set six years later, Dance Dance Dance, the sequel takes the readers on another search where the protagonist gradually comes across each clue by chance. After a series of dreams where his ex-girlfriend and the Sheep Man appear, he is compelled to return to the Dolphin Hotel, where he had resided with her during their last journey. On his return, he finds the shoddy, almost broken hotel completely converted into a slick, western-style hotel.
The story uncovers two mysteries - the first is metaphysical while the latter is the murder of girl by an old friend.
Spanning around the themes of loss and abandonment, alienation and ultimate discovery of human connections; Murakami did not skip the queer characters - bringing in a 13-year old psychic, an old school friend fated to play dentists and teachers in cliché movies, one-armed poet, the magically-seductive eared girlfriend who has disappeared without a trace and the Sheep Man.
Reading Murakami for the first time, what I really liked was the absurdities and how easily he depicts modern society. Although, it's not always easy to relate with the slow-to-the-punch story, the descriptions are given beautifully enough to make the stories captivating, enjoyable reads. Personally, I preferred the sequel to the first and since the plots are different, they can be read as individual books. Definitely worth a read.
The Winter Cocoa
B y Nabila Faiza Islam
Sunbeams School, Class 6
Cup of cocoa going your way
On a cold and lonely day
The afternoon and warmth touches your heart
Night from the start
The weather is frightful
So we feel delightful
Let hot chocolate overflow mugs,
Celebrate with winter hugs