Each of the six stories in Haruki Murakami’s After the Quake is set against the backdrop of the 1995 Kobe earthquake in Japan. The stories deal with tragedy, loss, and trauma, and are permeated with a sense of mystical undercurrents and the absurd. In nearly all, there is a symbolic mirroring that threads through each story in the form of nature and wild animals. Stories feature reoccurring animals both in their wild natural form and as anthropomorphized characters. The stories explore the psychological trauma when the world and nature unexpectedly do not behave how society thinks it ought: when marriages fall apart, a parent finds a new partner, or we grow old. These smaller quakes mirror the larger event exemplified in the Kobe quake. Satsuki’s driver in Thailand said it best.
“Strange and mysterious things, though, aren’t they—earthquakes? We take it for granted that the earth beneath our feet is solid and stationary. We even talk about people being ‘down to earth’ or having their feet firmly planted on the ground. But suddenly one day we see that isn’t true. The earth, the boulders, that are supposed to be so solid, all of a sudden turn as mushy as liquid. (76)