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神の子どもたちはみな踊る (“after the quake” is the title given to the English translation) was the second Haruki Murakami book I read and the first in Japanese. The Japanese title (“All of God’s Children Dance” in English) refers to one of the short stories in this collection. The English title to the compilation refers to the common thread in each of the stories, the Kobe earthquake.

The stories are completely different from each other. The earthquake barely surfaces in some. In others, the Kobe quake of 1995 is symbolic of a major change that happens to one or more of the characters.

Ironically, (and I didn’t pick the book for this purpose; I just grabbed a random Murakami book off the shelf of the library to read on our trip to Thailand; I didn’t even realize this was a collection of short stories until I was several pages into the second story, which I initially assumed was Chapter 2 of the first story) I began the short story called タイランド (Thailand) on the plane from Tokyo to Bangkok which was the same setting as that for the character in the story who was making the same journey. The story felt more real by experiencing Bangkok right along with Murakami’s character.

Murakami is surprisingly easy to understand in Japanese. If you can read 1,000 or more kanji then I would recommend skipping his translated works and going for the original instead. Even if you are at, say, 500+ kanji you should give Murakami a chance in Japanese.

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