The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

The less that is said about this strange little book, the better. More like a short-story or an experience than a book, you will speed through this illustrated Murakami creation in a whirlwind. A surreal book that’s worth reading and a perfect quick read if you’re trying to fit in your January Read 2020 book before the end of the month!

Read 2020 Categories: Under 200 Pages (January) & Translated (March)

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Keiko Furukura had known since a very young age that she wasn’t “normal.” Despite her family’s efforts to make her change, more than anything she found ways to adapt and hide the lest desirable of her thoughts and actions from society. Then, one fateful night just after she had started university, Keiko stumbled upon the soon-to-be-open Smile Mart at Hiiromachi Station and her life changed forever. She soon became a convenience store worker. Now, 18 years later, Keiko finds meaning and fulfillment from her life as a Smile Mart employee, but the pressure to change from those around her may change everything.

Sayaka Murata is quite popular and successful in Japan but this is the first of her books to be translated into English. This book is just phenomenal. Keiko is thoroughly examined as a character in such a beautiful and respectful way that allows the reader to fully empathize with her even though they may have very little in common. The book is very ‘slice of life’ and gives the reader such a vivid feeling of being inside a Japanese convenience store that it gave me flashbacks to my visit to Japan. At a slim 163 pages it reads quickly, and not a single paragraph is wasted.

READ 2020 Categories: Under 200 Pages (January) & Translated (March)

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

I first picked up this debut translated novel because it had been nominated for the 2017 Man Booker prize and was reviewed on one of Booklist’s podcasts. I was expecting a stunning and gripping short novel, but what I received instead was a two hour Fever Dream of my own.

Reality is obliterated more than blurred in this haunting interchange between a woman named Rachel and a boy who is not her child. Reading this book is so immersive and disorienting that, to me, it cannot be matched. It is best read in its entirety, home alone wrapped in a blanket in the near-dark. Upon finishing you may feel transported and, admittedly, a little confused. Samanta Schweblin is an author not to be underestimated.

READ 2020 Categories: Under 200 Pages (January) & Translated (March) & Horror (October)

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