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Outside looking in
Author in Focus
Garbage Dissect Our Modern Age

Break on through
The elusive Murakami

The Postmodern in Murakamis Novels
Terrorism before WTC
Japanese writer probes souls dark kingdom
Big in Japan
The healer
Murakami shares his thougts with students
A Japanese Novelist in Search of Lost Ideals
Inner space
Haruki Murakami does Seattle
Overview of the hard-boiled fiction of hm
The other Speech
dancing as fast as he can
Tokyo Prose
A Voice from Postmodern Japan
The American Scene
Hi Mr Haruki Murakami
The Return from the Lost world
Presents from the dead


Pat Holt
Terrorism before WTC
   
     
  September 28, 2001
  Holt uncensored

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, I kept thinking of "Underground," Haruki Murakami's personal investigation of the 1995 gassing of Tokyo's subway system by the religious sect Aum Shinrikyo. Vintage released the paperback only a few months ago (366 pages; $14).
 
 
Murakami is the critically acclaimed novelist of such best-sellers as "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle," "Norwegian Wood," "A Wild Sheep Chase" and other works of fiction. He might never have written about the gassings except that "the Japanese media had bombarded us with so many in-depth profiles of the Aum cult perpetrators," he felt, that the victims were "glimpsed only in passing" and forgotten.

"Our media probably wanted to create a collective image of the 'innocent Japanese sufferer,' " Murakami writes, "which is much easier to do when you don't have to deal with real faces. Besides, the classic dichotomy of 'ugly (visible) villains' versus the 'healthy (faceless) populace' makes for a better story."
 
 
So Murakami stopped his own work and attempted to locate, out of the thousands of victims who died or were injured from exposure to the bags of sarin (a toxic gas that is 26 times as deadly as cyanide), those survivors who would be willing to be interviewed for a nonfiction book.

"I wanted to get away from any formula," he tells us, "to recognize that each person on the subway that morning had a face, a life, a family, hopes and tears, contradictions and dilemmas - and that all these factors had a place in the drama."
 
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