The Strange Library is a recently released short story by Japanese author Haruki Murakami. It tells the story of a boy who stops into the library on his way home from school but has a rather unexpected experience:
On his way home from school, the young narrator of The Strange Library finds himself wondering how taxes were collected in the Ottoman Empire. He pops into the local library to see if it has a book on the subject. This is his first mistake.
Led to a special ‘reading room’ in a maze under the library by a strange old man, he finds himself imprisoned with only a sheep man, who makes excellent donuts, and a girl, who can talk with her hands, for company. His mother will be worrying why he hasn’t returned in time for dinner and the old man seems to have an appetite for eating small boy’s brains. How will he escape?
Murakami has developed a cult-like following for his strange-dreamy stories that blur the lines of reality and fantasy and the Strange Library is no exception. However an interesting additional element has been added by the different design choices made in the international releases of this book.
There have been three editions released – the original Japanese which features cartoon-like imagery that literally illustrates the narrators actions, as well as a US edition and a UK edition each with different design approaches to draw out the dark imagery within the story. There’s an interested analysis of the three designs over at the Millions whilst the Guardian showcases some of the stunning imagery from the UK edition.