The Strange Library is a short story by best-selling author, Haruki Murakami. The illustrated novel is about a boy who gets himself trapped inside a labyrinthine library. There, he meets a sheep-man and a girl who talks with her hands and they plan to escape the wicked librarian.
The Strange Library is a relatively short story. I finished reading the book in little over an hour but it took me a while to really digest the story. It is filled with more than a handful of confusing parallelism. It’s a great story, in that it leaves readers with a lot to think about.
Though short, the book is incredibly descriptive for its length. The mood during my first read-through was really heavy. Murakami made sure the reader would share in the boy’s anxiety and confusion. The mood during succeeding reads however, becomes tamer as I was reading to find answers instead of delving into the story.
The book itself is strange. The novel is bound by flaps that open vertically and there was more than one type size and color throughout the book. In a way it is very refreshing, and it’s reminded me how I’ve forgotten how to read books with pictures. The version I have is the one designed by Chip Kidd. There is an edition with illustrations from Ted Gossen which I would very much like to read soon.
If you are familiar with Haruki Murakami’s quirky narrative style, then I would definitely recommend picking up this book. If you, however, can’t tough it through Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, or haven’t read any of his books yet, The Strange Library may not be the best novel to start with.