The Strange Library combines two things that I love dearly: libraries and strange supernatural occurrences. The story begins with a boy returning his books to the library. When he asks the librarian for help finding more books, she directs him to a confined room in the basement where a small old man helps him locate three gigantic volumes on tax collection in the Ottoman Empire. However, when he tries to check the books out, he is told that he must instead read the books there, in the reading room, from cover to cover. Now trapped in the library, he must find a way home without arousing the suspicion of the librarian.
I was introduced to Haruki Murakami through his short story “Super Frog Saves Tokyo,” which was required reading for a writing seminar on magical realism. This genre has its roots in fantasy and the supernatural, but works on a much smaller scale. Often, the stories take place in a world that is very similar to our own and hint at the eerie, strange, and magical things that may exist all around us. This novella is further proof that Murakami has truly mastered this genre.