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De karaokeoorlog / druk 1

De karaokeoorlog - Ryū Murakami I can't imagine what it must be like to always be in the shadow of your namesake. Haruki Murakami, famous novelist, has indeed somewhat eclipsed the literary career of Ryu Murakami, although this is in no means a statement of quality. Apart from the fact that they are both Japanese people named Murakami, they actually have little in common.

As usual, Ryu Murakami writes a novel that is based around sensational events and Tarantino-esque characters that balance on the edge of good reason. You really just have to go along with it. The interesting thing is that these events shake up the lives of the characters in such a way that it allows for Murakami to really explore how the human mind responds to things that are 'out of place'. In many ways, the violence is a way to liberate oneself from the restrictions of society. Of course this is merely symbolic; Murakami is hardly an advocate of violence, I might imagine. But still - it's an interesting idea that works out well in this novel.

The story revolves around a confrontation between two groups of people - an emotionally detached group of young men and a group of lonely, scared wives in their thirties. Their obvious differences are used to address issues more central to Japanese society, such as the dangers of neglect and detachment. I felt it difficult to put down this novel - it's extremely high-paced and often disturbingly funny.

I would recommend Ryu Murakami's work to those people who aren't easily shocked by opinions that are deviant or even dangerous. What makes it al the more disturbing, is that this book is essentially a love tale, but one which treats love that is ungiven. Too often the absence of (motherly) love has been eclipsed by romantic boy meets girl stories. And I, for one, am glad there's always books like this that manage to show you the 'other side'.