Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche

First time reading a non-fiction book by Murakami.

In his usual masterly way, he paints a detailed picture of the 1995 Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway. He interviewed not only victims, but also delved into conversations and discussions with the cult members – people who may not have carried out the attack themselves, but were part of the group at some point.

The media is nothing but one voice representing a large diversity of voices. News articles and reports may tell us how many people died, what time the specific trains departed, and how many commuters were affected in those few hours, but nothing, or very little, is said of emotions, thoughts, impressions, and the moving on. The commuters who were caught up in the attack are portrayed as “innocent” while all those associated with the cult were immediately labelled as “bad”, but no one gave thought to believers who may have joined for sincere causes, only to feel alienated from their beliefs.

Through Murakami’s study, stereotypes are blurred,  hidden voices are given an outlet, and the subtle layers of Japanese society are exposed to the reader’s mind.

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