The City Uncertain Walls

Banana’s Review on The City and Its Uncertain Walls

May 15, 2023 By murakamiclub

A month has passed since the release of Haruki Murakami’s new novel “The City and Its Uncertain Walls”, and various book reviews have been written.

Among those, the best one is written by Banana Yoshimoto in the June issue of Shincho Magazine, entitled “From the Shadow of Banana Yoshimoto to Haruki Murakami san”. It stands out completely from the other mediocre reviews.

Shincho Magazine, June 2023

“I was very happy reading it. Thank you for that clear, undisturbed happiness”.

From the shadow of Banana Yoshimoto to Haruki Murakami san

Using the motifs in The City and Its Uncertain Walls, she accurately captures the novel’s essence without giving any spoilers, weaving the equivalent of four short stories into a two-page review and referencing García Márquez and Virginia Woolf in a way that only a real novelist could.

I feel as if I am living parts of my life in the world of Murakami san’s novel.

From the shadow of Banana Yoshimoto to Haruki Murakami san

Reading this short review is literally a magical realism experience. Her descriptions of her real life make the readers feel as if she herself appears in Haruki Murakami’s novels, and just when they manage to stay in reality, they are swept off into the next labyrinth.

“I can get a strong belief in the way I am.”

From the shadow of Banana Yoshimoto to Haruki Murakami san

She did not give a simple answer to the question of what made her so happy but used the power of her own writing to vividly describe her experiences and invite the readers into her world. At the same time, as a reader, she shared her experience of The City and Its Uncertain Walls, leading to a chain of happiness.

The easy-to-read stories included in the review may be the basis of her own work, but they retain enough brilliance as they are, just like Chopin’s Etudes, a gem of a collection of little pieces that bears the name of a practice.

The review is written in Japanese and is only available in a printed magazine. As Banana Yoshimoto is a world-renowned author herself, it would be worthwhile for overseas media to obtain a licence to translate it soon, at least until the translation of The City and Its Uncertain Walls is published.

following is added on 16 May 2023

At the moment, many reviews are positive, but some are not. There used to be a book devoted to criticising every single chapter of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, but such intense reactions seem hard to find. In general, The City and Its Uncertain Walls is read as a novel with a calm tone, with less suspense and romantic elements.

Murakami is a big name, so many people try to challenge him in order to make a name for themselves. For this reason, instead of enjoying the literature directly, many people ‘analyse’ it from ‘angles’, saying this and that. However, Murakami’s tendencies, such as ‘no foreshadowing recovery’ and ‘sudden leaving behind’, are more pronounced in this work, and such an analytical approach does not seem to be effective.

In this magazine, several reviews appeared, and the one that impressed me most, apart from Banana Yoshimoto’s, was that written by Yoko Ogawa. (‘He’ here is a double entendre that can be taken as either Murakami or the protagonist).

‘I feel as if he is confiding his most important story to me exclusively’

‘Enduring Vertical Movement’ by Yoko Ogawa

Meanwhile, Murakami’s speciality of weaving his motifs into the border between dream and reality has been further refined. And whether the novel is enjoyable or not depends on whether the reader can participate in ‘dream-reading’ and construct their own magical realism.

In that sense, many readers seem to enjoy The City and Its Uncertain Walls, but it is extremely difficult to verbalise the pleasure of reading it, and I think only rare talents like Banana Yoshimoto and Yoko Ogawa successfully did it.