Having read Norwegian Wood only a few books ago, South of the Border, West of the Sun left me with an intense feeling of awe, loss, passion, loneliness, despair – that feeling that no matter how much someone is meant to be yours, sometimes it just isn’t so, and life goes on regardless. That old past loves can never be, no matter how much emotion remains.
Despite the many similarities between South of the Border, West of the Sun and Norwegian Wood – both book titles are song-based, for one, while both protagonists have loves they cannot have, were connected to the Tokyo university riots, swim, love jazz music and read a lot – I found this book intense and beautiful, more so than Norwegian Wood. I connected with it a lot more and found myself enveloped by Hajime’s world.
Another one of Murakami’s book that doesn’t delve into the unusually weird, South of the Border, West of the Sun is still mysterious regardless. And how could it possibly not be, with the love he would give up everything for, Shimamoto, suddenly appearing into his happy, successful life?
I won’t tell you what happens, because you really need to read it for yourself.
I think this book may very well be one of my top Haruki Murakami reads thus far.