Thursday, 17 March 2011

after the wave

Alex Thomson's Channel 4 News report from north-east Japan last night conjured a dramatic image of the recent tsunami and reminded me of another short story by Haruki Murakami. The Seventh Man is based on an idea the writer had when surfing and included in excellent collection Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (2005; it originally appeared in Granta).

In it, the narrator tells of a huge wave that sweeps away his best friend, K. This moment will come to everyone, the narrator says, but in his case it came 'in the shape of a giant wave'. The narrator, K and K's dog walk to the beach during a typhoon, when the rain has passed and the waves hushed. 'Then I heard a deep rumbling sound. It seemed to shake the earth. Actually, before I heard the rumble I heard another sound as though a lot of water was surging up through a hole in the ground.'

The effect is devastating: 'It just barely missed me, but in my place it swallowed everything that mattered most to me and swept it off to another world. I took years to find it again and to recover from the experience - precious years that can never be replaced.'

The British Red Cross has a Japanese tsunami appeal, and do check out the Authors for Japan auction, which runs until 20 March.

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