The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
Hitting Japan in 2008, The Strange Library spins a dark modern-day fairytale about a boy who finds himself drawn into the shady labyrinth beneath his local library by an old man with a taste for human brains. The book abounds in oddness met with the kind of calm bewilderment and quiet humour Murakami has spent decades refining.
Murakami's writing lives inside strange in-between places, otherworldly borderlands where cultures, times and realities blur together. Eclectically illustrated with diagrams, drawings and assorted artwork plundered from the vast stores of the London Library, The Strange Library creates a visual journey to match the weird pastiche of Murakami's prose. A word on one page is spun out into an image on the next like a pictorial stream-of-consciousness, each odd thought-tangent followed up by an illustration from a relevant library book. As the boy's mother always told him, 'if you don't know something, go to the library and look it up.'
The translation by Ted Goossen gives the dialogue a slightly British flavour that's just a little at odds with Murakami's Americana-infused style, but it's not enough to seriously detract from a little book that stands out as a curiosity even in the incomparably curious library of Murakami. [Ross McIndoe]