Haruki Murakami's 'Underground' tells the stories of individuals affected by the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway by an extreme religious group. Murakami approaches each of the individual attacks geographically, placing the stories of the victims and the protagonists in chapters based upon the line that was attacked. The story of an attacker will sit next to the story of a subway worker, which will then be followed by an account by a businessman.
It could be argued that Murakami has merely transcribed the words of the interviewees, and thus deserves little praise for this book. However, Murakami's main strength is that he has allowed the Japanese people to speak for themselves, and his restraint in adding his own opinion deserves merit. And somehow, Underground transcends the events it describes, and gives us a compelling insight into how modern Japanese view their country and the direction they are heading in.
This report prepared by Robert Symes