The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami: A Strange Little Borzoi Book of Fun – Book Review

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami is a Japanese surrealist children’s novel about a young boy, a girl, and a strange fucking sheep dude that are trying to escape a creepy library. This was my very first Borzoi book (i.e.: has unique emphasis on details such as card stocks, illustrations and overall craftsmanship of the book) and it’s one I won’t be forgetting anytime soon!

The structure of The Strange Library is what immediately caught my attention because it’s just so damn interactive and it made me feel like a kid again, reading those Disney™ books with the buttons that made sounds or mumbled dialogues. But the story herein is decidedly different compared to the fun and carefree adventures of Aladdin™ or Simba™. There are flap things that the reader can engage with during their reading session, and while it can be a bit awkward fumbling through them, it was also one of the most delightful parts of the title. Gives that surrealism more of a literal oomf if that makes sense.

The storytelling itself ended up being far more thought-provoking than I anticipated. I expected something silly and wild, and while it definitely has morsels of both components in it, the concepts explored in the journey have such a refreshing premise.

Libraries are established in a system of give-and-take with respect to knowledge. It’s such a natural and instinctive transaction that most regular library patrons don’t ever think about the physical happenings of that process. I know that it’s never really occurred to me and I go to the library multiple times a week. So witnessing a quite literal element of giving to a library establishment so we can continue to take from it was pretty mind-blowing. This then ties into other concept that we have about things like coincidences, what it means to stand up for yourself, and the refusal to accept reality as it is. It’s just such a wild fucking blend of themes and nothing less than what I’ve come to admire and anticipate from the brilliantly eccentric mind of Haruki Murakami.

The Strange Library was a book that utilised it’s imaginative composition and tale to remind me why I love books so bloody much and how, even after decades of being a bookworm, they can still surprise me in the most amazing of ways. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this to fans of Haruki Murakami, people that enjoy strange surrealist fiction, and just folx that are looking for a unique bookish experience in general.

Publication Date: December 2014
Publisher: Knopf (978-0385354301)
Translator: Ted Goossen
Genre
: Japanese Surrealism
Page Count: 96
Content Warnings: Some mild disturbing imagery.
Availability: In-print; eBook and Paperback editions available

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