The protagonists in Haruki Murakami's collection of short stories are united in one belief: that there is something indefinable missing from their lives, or, more precisely, from within themselves. We meet Komura, the initially contented hi-fi salesman whose self-image is shattered when his wife walks out leaving a note describing him as 'a chunk of air'; Miyake, the amateur painter who has nightmares about dying in a fridge and lights nightly bonfires to warm his lonely heart ; and Satsuki, the nervy career woman consumed by hatred for her former husband, who has an emotional 'stone' in place of the baby she aborted decades ago.
And there are more. In each of the six thematically linked tales in After the Quake, Murakami paints a disconcertingly believable picture of emotionally isolated characters thrown together by random circumstance and the in escapable urgency of their private despair. What sparks their journeys of self-discovery, not all of them