South of the Border, West of the Sun

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South of the Border, West of the Sun
South of the Border, West of the Sun (Haruki Murakami novel - front cover).jpg
First edition (Japanese)
Author Haruki Murakami
Original title 国境の南、太陽の西
Kokkyō no Minami, Taiyō no Nishi
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Publisher Kodansha
Publication date
Published in English
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 192 pages
ISBN 0-09-944857-2
OCLC 51106989

South of the Border, West of the Sun (国境の南、太陽の西 Kokkyō no Minami, Taiyō no Nishi?) is a short novel by Japanese author Haruki Murakami.


He wrote it in 1992 while he was a visiting scholar at the Princeton University in the United States.[1] The English translation by Philip Gabriel was released in 1999.

Part of the title, 'South of the Border,' refers to the song as sung by Nat King Cole.[2] However, there is no evidence that Nat King Cole actually ever recorded this song. The other half refers to an Inuit syndrome called Piblokto or Arctic (or Siberian) hysteria.

Plot synopsis[edit]

The novel tells the story of Hajime, starting from his childhood in a small town in Japan. Here he meets a girl, Shimamoto, who is also an only child and suffers from polio, which causes her to drag her leg as she walks. They spend most of their time together talking about their interests in life and listening to records on Shimamoto's stereo. They join different high schools and grow apart. They are reunited again at the age of 36, Hajime now the father of two children and owner of two successful jazz bars in Aoyama, the trendy part of Tokyo.

With Shimamoto never giving any detail as to her own life and appearing only at random intervals, she haunts him as a constant "What if". Despite his current situation, meeting Shimamoto again sets off a chain of events that eventually forces Hajime to choose between his wife and family or attempting to recapture the magic of the past.


  1. ^ Brown, Mick (2003-08-15). "Tales of the unexpected". Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2008-12-07. 
  2. ^ Bauer, Justin (2000-10-05). "This Bird Has Flown". Philadelphia City Paper. Retrieved 2008-12-07.