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Description

Product Description

From internationally acclaimed author Haruki Murakami—a fantastical illustrated short novel about a boy imprisoned in a nightmarish library.
 
Opening the flaps on this unique little book, readers will find themselves immersed in the strange world of best-selling Haruki Murakami''s wild imagination. The story of a lonely boy, a mysterious girl, and a tormented sheep man plotting their escape from a nightmarish library, the book is like nothing else Murakami has written. Designed by Chip Kidd and fully illustrated, in full color, throughout, this small format, 96 page volume is a treat for book lovers of all ages.

Amazon.com Review

What an odd and oddly beautiful little book. A little boy enters a quiet library -- “even more hushed than usual,” we’re told in the opening line -- and is sent to Room 107, where he meets a creepy old librarian who leads him deep into a maze of dark catacombs beneath the library. There, we learn of the librarian’s ghoulish designs and the boy encounters a small man wearing the skin of a sheep and a pretty young girl pushing a teacart, their worlds now “all jumbled together.” Not even fresh-made doughnuts can sweeten the boy’s nightmarish predicament as the librarian’s prisoner. The Strange Library was designed and illustrated by famed book jacket designer (and frequent Murakami collaborator) Chip Kidd, whose moody and mysterious depictions of a child’s (and a parent’s) darkest dream match Murakami’s surreal imagination. It’s hard to discern the message. Maybe something about knowledge being free or the value of libraries. No matter. This is vintage Murakami and, at the same time, something entirely fresh. No one puts animal skins on humans like Murakami. No one would dare. --Neal Thompson

Review

“As if the work of Japanese fiction master Haruki Murakami weren''t strangely beautiful by itself, his American publisher has just put out a stand-alone edition of his 2008 novella  The Strange Library, in a new trade paperback designed by the legendary Chip Kidd. . . . The story itself, full of characters and images both awfully weird and utterly down to earth, transforms as you read it, becoming a living, nearly talismanic exercise in how to lift yourself out of the realm of the ordinary and allow the sentences to carry you into an alternate universe. . . . The mysterious pleasure of it all is the payoff when you read Murakami. Some scholar may explain it to us all one day, diagram the roots of his work in the Japanese storytelling tradition, in fable and myth, the special effects he imports from American literature. For me, now, I''m just enjoying basking in the heat of this hypnotic short work by a master who is playing a long game.” —Alan Cheuse, NPR

“[A] charming, surreal story. . . . Cleverly designed and illustrated by Chip Kidd. . . . Whether he is writing for adults or children, [Murakami] remains a suspenseful and fantastical storyteller.” — The Washington Post

“It had me enthralled . . . a story of childhood, death and reading, drawn in both words and pictures, like a fairytale, yet there was nothing childish about it. . . . Let the Murakami-mania begin (again).” —Arifa Akbar,  The Independent (London)

“Murakami’s wry metaphysical play feels no less diffuse in this concentrated form. His usual fascinations—the instability of identity, the uses of knowledge, the oppression of memory—fade in with just enough time to fade out, offering just enough light to coax you forward, deeper into the dream.” — The Boston Globe
 
“Welcome . . . once again, to Murakamiland: sheep men, waifs, quests, attentiveness to little (odd) things, a labyrinth, a stairway down . . . absurdity and irrationality, the tension between the fantastical and the everyday, real and unreal, sadness and loss, then sudden shifts out of the blue, and plenty of the plain runic. . . . [ The Strange Library] plumb[s] the kind of questions that leave us all wishing for more room to breathe: the singular and ever-solitary individual . . . the loss of identity (for better or worse), groping in the dark, self-understanding in an unknowable world, the dignity of idiosyncrasies. . . . The spirit and tone of the writing: As if Murakami is driving down a strange road, not know[ing] what’s to come around the next curve: alert, aware, but as in the dark as the reader. He is, however, a really good driver.” — The Christian Science Monitor
 
“Those who come to Mr. Murakami’s work for the first time will be elated by the clarity and wit of his style as translated by Ted Goossen, and intrigued by his characters and the situations they face. The Strange Library . . .  stays in the mind because of its combination of brutality with flippancy, but mostly for its oddness. . . . In its own odd way it is a fun read.”— Washington Times

The Strange Library is a subteen’s  No Exit. . . . Beautifully designed. . . . Perfect for coffee tables in the gladsome season. . . . Readers looking for a light diversion in a heavily loaded holiday season should enjoy this existential vision.” — The Miami Herald
  
“Japanese master Haruki Murakami''s short fantasy tale The Strange Library, designed by Chip Kidd with sublime vintage Japanese graphics, takes readers on a wondrous journey to the mysterious underbelly of a Tokyo library.” — Elle
 
“Striking. . . . [This] dryly funny, concise fable has all the hallmarks of the author’s deadpan magic, along with some Grimm and Lewis Carroll thrown in for good measure. . . . The perfect trip down the rabbit hole.” — The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg)
 
“Murakami manages to endow [these] pages with all that we have come to expect from his more leviathan tomes. . . . [Chip Kidd’s illustrations] seem so essential that, having experienced Murakami’s story in this version, one can hardly imagine it in any other form.” — The Japan Times

“Dreamlike. . . . What is immediately clear . . . is just how much thought went into the design and illustrated content. . . . Published by Knopf, the U.S. edition is a Chip Kidd production, and while Kidd’s prolific portfolio demonstrates how comfortable he is working within any and all design idioms,  The Strange Library is an in-your-face zoom-in on the faded comics qualities Kidd so often employs when working on Murakami titles. . . . [The illustrations] are what ignite the reader’s thoughts about what the narrator is up against. . . . The designs force the reader to actually read, and read into, the design. . . . Everything that comes to pass in  The Strange Library, like in so much of Murakami’s fiction, questions the differences between what is real and what is not, and whether such a distinction even matters. . . . Evocative, atmospheric.” — The Millions

“Can a font be heart-breaking? I didn’t think so, until now. . . . More than anything, I found myself free-associating while reading  The Strange Library: Kafka, Dalí, Nabokov, and Poe all came to mind.” —Jon Morris, PopMatters

“Designed by Chip Kidd, nearly every other page contains a beautiful image, often an abstract representation of what is happening to the narrator. This sinister story and gorgeous artwork come together like an unforgettable nightmare. This one has some major gifting potential.” —Bustle

“At once beguiling and disquieting—in short, trademark Murakami—a fast read that sticks in the mind. . . . Murakami loves two things among many: Franz Kafka (think  Kafka on the Shore) and secret places (think  1Q84). This latest, brief and terse, combines those two passions. . . . It would take a Terry Gilliam, or perhaps a Kurosawa, to film Murakami’s nightmare properly.” — Kirkus Reviews
 
“This dryly funny, concise fable features all the hallmarks of Murakami''s deadpan magic, along with splashes of Lewis Carroll and the brothers Grimm. . . . Full-page designs from Chip Kidd divide the sections, bolstering the book''s otherworldliness with images from the text alongside mazelike designs and dizzying close-ups of painted faces.” — Publishers Weekly

About the Author

HARUKI MURAKAMI was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into more than fifty languages, and the most recent of his many international honors is the Jerusalem Prize, whose previous recipients include J. M. Coetzee, Milan Kundera, and V. S. Naipaul.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

(1)
 
The library was even more hushed than usual.

My new leather shoes clacked against the gray linoleum. Their hard, dry sound was unlike my normal footsteps. Every time I get new shoes, it takes me a while to get used to their noise.

A woman I’d never seen before was sitting at the circulation desk, reading a thick book. It was extraordinarily wide. She looked as if she were reading the right-hand page with her right eye, and the left-hand page with her left.

“Excuse me,” I said.

She slammed the book down on her desk and peered up at me.

“I came to return these,” I said, placing the books I was carrying on the counter. One was titled How to Build a Submarine, the other Memoirs of a Shepherd.

The librarian flipped their front covers back to check the due date. They weren’t overdue. I’m always on time, and I never hand things in late. That’s the way my mother taught me. Shepherds are the same. If they don’t stick to their schedule, the sheep go completely bananas.

The librarian stamped “Returned” on the card with a flourish and resumed her reading.

“I’m looking for some books, too,” I said.

“Turn right at the bottom of the stairs,” she replied without looking up. “Go straight down the corridor to Room 107.”

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4.3 out of 54.3 out of 5
679 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Eunbi Hina
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Childish knockoff of the "House of Leaves" novel
Reviewed in the United States on October 2, 2020
There are constant parallels to the "House of Leaves" by Mark Z. Danielewski (2000). This book by Murakami was published in 2014 so I have no doubt but to wonder/suspect if he were either extremely inspired by the original, or actually took upon himself to copy almost every... See more
There are constant parallels to the "House of Leaves" by Mark Z. Danielewski (2000). This book by Murakami was published in 2014 so I have no doubt but to wonder/suspect if he were either extremely inspired by the original, or actually took upon himself to copy almost every aspect of the original but dumb it down to a child''s reading level in hopes that no one notices. I HIGHLY recommend reading "House of Leaves", the original novel of this knockoff. If I had never read House of Leaves, I would have found Murakami''s "Strange Library" much more pleasant to read. And I powered through it since it was so short, and am still able to enjoy the mystery of the book. HOWEVER, there are WAY too many parallels that point to the "House of Leaves" that I cannot see this book as no more than a copycat, and I will appreciate it as such, not as Murakami''s own creation.
3 people found this helpful
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Reading Bifrost
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
‘“If all they did was lend out knowledge for free, what would the payoff be for them?”
Reviewed in the United States on January 9, 2015
‘“If all they did was lend out knowledge for free, what would the payoff be for them?” “But that doesn’t give them the right to saw off the tops of people’s heads and eat their brains. Don’t you think that’s going a bit too far?’” If you haven’t ever read a... See more
‘“If all they did was lend out knowledge for free, what would the payoff be for them?”
“But that doesn’t give them the right to saw off the tops of people’s heads and eat their brains. Don’t you think that’s going a bit too far?’”

If you haven’t ever read a story by Murakami before, he’s odd. Very odd. I’m trying my best to review this without giving away any spoilers at all for those who just want to read the story and for those who like to dig for the deeper meanings.

That being said, The Strange Library is a short story presented in a lone book. The book itself is odd, the cover has to be flipped open and has very strange vintage Japanese illustrations to match the story. Everything about the story seems simple and straightforward- not digging deep into characters or plots- adding a richness and dreamlike quality to the story.

But, if you take it to the true Murakami level of reading (we’re talking deep philosophy here) then the reader just might see that the story really revolves around the boy, his pet bird, his mother, and death.

<<<<www.readingbifrost.com>>>> visit blog for original review with details (contains spoiler)

Overall The Strange Library was a fabulously odd short short story wether you’re just looking for a quick read or something you can sink your teeth into. I’d suggest getting a hardcopy instead of an ebook for this one just because the Chip Kidd design does add a lot to the story.
9 people found this helpful
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Zac Hanscom
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Spoiler-Free Review
Reviewed in the United States on January 30, 2015
The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami is an illustrated novelette with emphasis on the "ette"; it''s really just the 1982 short story, "Toshokan kitan" translated into English (it hasn''t appeared in any of Murakami''s English-language short-story collections)... See more
The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami is an illustrated novelette with emphasis on the "ette"; it''s really just the 1982 short story, "Toshokan kitan" translated into English (it hasn''t appeared in any of Murakami''s English-language short-story collections) with illustrations by Chip Kidd. It is of interest to careful Murakami readers because it has references to other Murakami works. The Sheep Man makes an appearance, and one cannot help but notice the "other worldliness" of The Strange Library in comparison to the "other world" of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

So, is it worth the $7.99 the book costs on Kindle? Or the $10 it costs for hard copy? I would say, "yes," at least to me. It took me half an hour to read, but at the same time, reading manga volumes rarely takes much longer, and they cost around the same amount. I really think that if you truly love a genre, you should support it, and I love illustrated novelettes and graphic novels. ****1/2
8 people found this helpful
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The Craftsman
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A short and digestible foray into one of Murakami''s signature dream worlds.
Reviewed in the United States on March 8, 2016
This short and sweet little book (it is quite short, hardly 100 pages, a very quick and easy read) is the epitome of what makes Murakami''s work enjoyable. An average, slightly dorky protagonist enters a dream-like world that blurs the lines of fantasy and reality.... See more
This short and sweet little book (it is quite short, hardly 100 pages, a very quick and easy read) is the epitome of what makes Murakami''s work enjoyable. An average, slightly dorky protagonist enters a dream-like world that blurs the lines of fantasy and reality.

This bite-sized work is great for a Murakami fan looking to devour more of his work, or for a new reader to get a taste of Murakami''s world - but it definitely isn''t as in depth or satisfying as some of his better known works (Kafka on the Shore, 1Q84, Wind Up Bird Chronicles, etc).

The interesting and original thing about this novel comes with the beautiful artwork interspersed throughout the book, that accompanies the story. It''s like having pieces of amazing cover art spread throughout the story, and complementing the story as you read it.

Highly recommended!
4 people found this helpful
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Amazonian
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Murakami brilliant as always
Reviewed in the United States on January 12, 2020
It''s Murakami, and if you''ve read him before you know what to expect. Wit and magical realism presented in a deceivingly unassuming manner. Sometimes, maybe many times, where he takes you does not make sense, but then it doesn''t need to and the trip is worth the time.
One person found this helpful
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The Steadfast Reader
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Fantastic!
Reviewed in the United States on January 31, 2016
Thoughts and Feelings: Well clearly I couldn’t write a synopsis better than that. This was my second Murakami after the epic 1Q84, it was so different! I loved this little barely novella. It had the feeling of a fairy tale in both style and substance. It was so delightful... See more
Thoughts and Feelings: Well clearly I couldn’t write a synopsis better than that. This was my second Murakami after the epic 1Q84, it was so different! I loved this little barely novella. It had the feeling of a fairy tale in both style and substance. It was so delightful and charming while at the same time being creepy and weird. Fantastic!

Who’s Going to Like it? Hard core Murakami fans, obviously. Also anyone looking for a little bit of magical, creepy, weirdness.
2 people found this helpful
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Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Beautiful and Surreal
Reviewed in the United States on April 18, 2017
Haruki Murakami is ever inventive in his prose, but as his poetic cadence combines with the concepts of graphic imagery, it brings even more light to the subtext of the story. The Strange Library is both delightful and surprising, and is highly recommended, as both the... See more
Haruki Murakami is ever inventive in his prose, but as his poetic cadence combines with the concepts of graphic imagery, it brings even more light to the subtext of the story. The Strange Library is both delightful and surprising, and is highly recommended, as both the digital and the actual paper versions.
6 people found this helpful
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Earnstone
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Magic realism w/ a punchline
Reviewed in the United States on February 13, 2015
This snappy little tome started innocently enough & then just got curiouser & curiouser. A labyrinth of tunnels underneath the municipal library make for a tumble down a rabbit hole where our youthful hero is met by a jailer in sheep''s clothing rather than the Cheshire... See more
This snappy little tome started innocently enough & then just got curiouser & curiouser. A labyrinth of tunnels underneath the municipal library make for a tumble down a rabbit hole where our youthful hero is met by a jailer in sheep''s clothing rather than the Cheshire Cat. As is often the case in such stories, it doesn''t make any sense until it does. By then it''s too late & you''ve surrendered to Murakami''s prose & playfulness & read the book in one setting. And then you think & talk about it for awhile. Added bonus is the colorful artwork that completes the Lewis Carroll homage.
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Top reviews from other countries

Arnold
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Beautiful. Find the joy of reading again!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 16, 2020
Insanely stunning. The illustrations glow and surprise and delight. The quality of the pages and the attention to detail cannot be topped. I''m on a murakami discovery journey and can''t wait to read more. Dream like story telling, the characters come to life and feel real in...See more
Insanely stunning. The illustrations glow and surprise and delight. The quality of the pages and the attention to detail cannot be topped. I''m on a murakami discovery journey and can''t wait to read more. Dream like story telling, the characters come to life and feel real in some fantastic scenarios, this allows the reader to trust and believe in the protagonists plight and moreover to care.
One person found this helpful
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Kramer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
If you have read a Haruki Murakami novel then you will love this short story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 27, 2017
This is one of my favourite stories but Murakami albeit a short novel. If you have read any of his stories then you will feel at home reading it.If you are new then you will have to have an open mind.I let my 10 year old son read it,it was his first Murakami novel and...See more
This is one of my favourite stories but Murakami albeit a short novel. If you have read any of his stories then you will feel at home reading it.If you are new then you will have to have an open mind.I let my 10 year old son read it,it was his first Murakami novel and probably most appropriate for his age.Ill even lend it to my partner and believe she will like it. If you love Murakamis books i recommend this, if your new or want a quirky story i would jump in. Delivery was very quick, quality excellent plus its a very nice book to keep with pictures, great for a Murakami collector.
4 people found this helpful
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Scaroth, Last of the Jagaroth
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Strange indeed
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 30, 2015
Haruki Murakami is the master of ambiguity, and this neat little hardback sits well with the writer’s other Kafa-esque masterpieces such as Norwegian Wood and After Dark. Here, an unnamed boy one day finds himself in the titular bibliotheque, where his pedestrian...See more
Haruki Murakami is the master of ambiguity, and this neat little hardback sits well with the writer’s other Kafa-esque masterpieces such as Norwegian Wood and After Dark. Here, an unnamed boy one day finds himself in the titular bibliotheque, where his pedestrian aspirations are juxtaposed against a series of weird characters, who either oppress or assist him. As a Murakami completist I easily devoured this Raman noodle of a short story in one (brief) sitting, and was left hungry for more. Fortunately the Japanese master also released a full-length story: Colourless Tsukury Tazaki, at the same time; I intend for that to be dessert. As far as this one is concerned - don''t whine about its brevity, just enjoy.
4 people found this helpful
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markr
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
very strange, very short, but I''m glad I bought it
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 11, 2015
This is a very strange, very short little book which I read in maybe 15 minutes. It is the story of a boy who visits a very strange library indeed, who meets some vey odd characters. There are illustrations on almost every page, and some pages are just a few words. So why...See more
This is a very strange, very short little book which I read in maybe 15 minutes. It is the story of a boy who visits a very strange library indeed, who meets some vey odd characters. There are illustrations on almost every page, and some pages are just a few words. So why is it so haunting. I don''t know - the story is creepy, somehow, and I haven''t figured it out yet, thought provoking and very unusually presented. I''m glad I bought this
3 people found this helpful
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C. J. Larner
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An Excellent Read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 7, 2016
Murakami is a brilliant writer and in this volume of short stories his skill is well exhibited. Beautiful illustrations compliment the words perfectly and you find yourself completely immersed in the story. If you''re new to Murakami then this is a good starting point but...See more
Murakami is a brilliant writer and in this volume of short stories his skill is well exhibited. Beautiful illustrations compliment the words perfectly and you find yourself completely immersed in the story. If you''re new to Murakami then this is a good starting point but equally fans will devour this. An excellent read.
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