cover image The Strange Library

The Strange Library

Haruki Murakami, trans. from the Japanese by Ted Goossen, read by Kirby Heyborne. Random House Audio, , unabridged, 1 CDs, 1 hr., $20 ISBN 978-0-553-54651-4

In this short, dreamy fable by Japanese fantasist Murakami, a young student describes his arrival at an odd Tokyo library. For no apparent reason, he is sent to the ancient, abrasive librarian, who leads him through an underground labyrinth of rooms and passages. On this curious journey the unnamed student is confronted by a man wearing a sheepskin, a large furious green-eyed dog, and a young woman who silently provides him with delicious, freshly baked doughnuts. Eventually he discovers the librarian’s sinister, seemingly inescapable plan. The novella has its share of whimsy, which reader Heybourne conveys along with the student’s youthful naïveté. Eventually this is replaced by a mood of confusion and anxiety, as the librarian croakily describes the protagonist’s fate. This audio presentation perfectly captures the perplexing, nightmarish, and beguiling atmosphere of Murakami’s fiction, but whether that is enough to compensate for the loss of the print edition’s brilliant full-page designs by Chip Kidd is a decision the buyer will have to make. A Knopf hardcover. (Dec.)