OWL Magazine Korea

Ryu Murakami’s “Almost Transparent Blue”

The novel “Almost Transparent Blue” is classified as “Restricted for those under 19.” It’s intriguing to note that, unlike more widely-read novels, this one is deemed inappropriate for readers under 19. The title of the novel, “Almost Transparent Blue,” is familiar even to those who haven’t read the book. It seems to be a well-known work, at least by its title.

My first encounter with this book was during my university graduation period when I had some time to spare. With the goal of reading as much as possible before graduation, I borrowed and read this book. The decision to read this book was simple—it had a familiar title.

“Restricted for those under 19 – Almost Transparent Blue”

To cut to the chase, while the title was intriguing, the content of the book wasn’t particularly pleasant for me. Despite being a novel, it contained somewhat awkward and shocking scenes that didn’t resonate well with me.

The prevalent themes throughout the book include “drugs, promiscuity, violence,” making the reading experience less enjoyable. Nevertheless, I managed to finish it, and this was mostly due to a sense of obligation. Since I borrowed the book with the intention of reading it, I felt compelled to finish it despite the discomfort.

From the descriptions of the work, it’s suggested that the novel represents the sense of “loss” accompanying the modernization of the 1970s, portraying individuals lost and wandering amidst the progress. The novel tackles issues such as drug abuse, promiscuity, and violence, sparking considerable literary controversy at the time.

While there’s no law stating that these themes can’t be used as literary material, personally, it wasn’t a topic I was eager to explore. Therefore, I’ll refrain from delving into too much detail in this review.

“Almost Transparent Blue – What Color is It?”

Let’s return to the title. What does “Almost Transparent Blue” refer to in terms of color? If something is described as “almost transparent,” one might think of a “crystal clear sea.” Generally, transparency brings to mind positive images of “clarity and cleanliness.”

However, in this book, the portrayal of “Almost Transparent Blue” is not associated with particularly pleasant imagery. In the later part of the work, the protagonist, lost and wandering, is depicted using a broken piece of glass to cut his own wrist. The scene describes the “blood-stained piece of glass” as “Almost Transparent Blue.”

  • “The village, shining like a shadow, forms a subtle curve along the ridge. The curve is like the faint curve of the horizon seen when the thunder and the flames burn in the rain-drenched airfield to kill Lily. It’s like the soft curve of the horizon that is vaguely visible after the waves hit. It’s like the gentle curve of a woman’s white arm. Until now, I have always been surrounded by this curve that seems endlessly thin.
  • The glass with blood on the edge is dyed almost transparent in the dawn air.
  • Almost Transparent Blue.”

Blood is generally depicted as red. Even in reality, it appears to be tinged with “red.” Why, then, did the author describe it as “blue” in this context? After reading the work, this question lingers.

Nevertheless, the novel is undoubtedly not a lighthearted one. Despite this, it serves as an opportunity to reflect on life. Thoughts about life’s direction and the sense of loss are essential aspects of human existence.

“Ryu Murakami – A Representative Author of Japan Alongside Haruki Murakami”

The author, Ryu Murakami, was born in 1952. He debuted as a writer with this work, “Almost Transparent Blue,” written as a university student in 1976. The novel won both the “Gunzo New Writers Prize” and the “Akutagawa Prize” simultaneously.

“Almost Transparent Blue” has been a long-standing steady seller in Korea, with five revised editions released, emphasizing its status as one of Ryu Murakami’s representative works.

While my personal review might lean more towards the negative due to the somewhat uncomfortable theme, I acknowledge that the work may well be considered a masterpiece in terms of literary merit and style. Regardless of the subject matter, any work that prompts us to reflect on our lives and offers something to contemplate holds significance.

“Almost Transparent Blue”

  • Author: Ryu Murakami
  • Publication Date: August 22, 2014
  • ISBN13: 9788993690286
  • Yes24: Link