The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami [Review]

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami


Fully illustrated and beautifully designed, this is a unique and wonderfully creepy tale that is sure to delight Murakami fans.

‘All I did was go to the library to borrow some books’.

On his way home from school, the young narrator of The Strange Library finds himself wondering how taxes were collected in the Ottoman Empire. He pops into the local library to see if it has a book on the subject. This is his first mistake.

Led to a special ‘reading room’ in a maze under the library by a strange old man, he finds himself imprisoned with only a sheep man, who makes excellent donuts, and a girl, who can talk with her hands, for company.

His mother will be worrying why he hasn’t returned in time for dinner and the old man seems to have an appetite for eating small boy’s brains. How will he escape?


Well this was a bit of a head trip, I’m not entirely sure what I’ve just read.

It’s a short story, so I’m a little wary of talking about what happens, as to do so would pretty much tell you everything, but I did love the imagery Murakami employs, which his helped greatly by the wonderful illustrations that are littered throughout.

Murakami doesn’t really explain the story, or the events that happen to our main character, leaving that up to the reader, but personally I rationalised them by believing the events and the ending aren’t as linear as presented, and are as a result of deep and paralysing grief.

For a short story we get to see two or three interesting characters, a sheep-man who acts as a sort of warden, and a mysterious girl, who can only talk with her hands and befriends our main character.

It’s hard to say that I liked, The Strange Library, as in the end, it’s not a particularly cheerful story, and like the boy’s prison in the labyrinth below the library, it’s more than a little disorienting. That said, it’s still an enjoyable worthwhile experience to read.

You can see some extracts and images from the book in this article over at The Guardian.

Buy: The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami


6 thoughts on “The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami [Review]

  • January 14 at 10:48 pm

    I read this last month, I think? It was very, very strange, but I also found it very moving and sad in a way.

  • January 8 at 12:08 am

    I am still not sure what I think of this one….

  • January 7 at 1:25 pm

    I hadn’t heard of this one before your review but it sounds interesting. I’ve really enjoyed everything by Haruki Murakami that I’ve read and especially his mind-trippy stories 🙂

    • January 7 at 10:48 pm

      It’s definitely mind-trippy! 😉

  • January 7 at 11:27 am

    I read Norwegian Wood recently (by all accounts and ‘adult’ book by Murukami), so this is intriguing. Is this more YA-based?

    • January 7 at 10:30 pm

      No, I wouldn’t have said so. I don’t think it’s aimed at any particular age group really.

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