When the title “Audition” is mentioned the first thing that usually comes to mind is the acclaimed cult film from director Takashi Miike. You are forgiven if you did not know that Miike’s film is based on the popular novel by Ryu Murakami. Murakami is the author of several renowned novels such as Almost Transparent Blue and In the Miso Soup, to name a few. With the success of the film version of Audition, Murakami’s novels were translated into even more languages and his popularity has grown even here in the US.
In Audition, Murakami decides to tell the entire story from the point of view of Aoyama, a lonely widow who decides that it is finally time to enter back into the dating game in hopes of finding a new wife. With his best friend Yoshikawa, he hatches a scheme to find a new wife by conducting a series of auditions for a fake film that he and his company never plan on ever making. It is through these auditions that Aoyama becomes infatuated with a timid young actress by the name of Yamasaki Asami, a former ballerina with a mysterious past. Aoyama begins to draw closer to Asami as he realizes that they have more in common than he originally thought leading him down a path of ecstasy that leaves him blind to all of Yoshikawa and his son Shige’s warning about a woman with too many questions without answers.
Aoyama slowly delves into a relationship that threatens to unravel should he learn too much about Asami’s mysterious past and Asami is not a woman to be taken lightly as she has ulterior motives that may run contrary to Aoyama’s.
Those looking for the quirky atmosphere and impending dread of Miike’s film will be disappointed as since Murakami’s novel is told from only Murakami’s perspective you only see events unfold as he witnesses them. This actually works in favor for Murakami’s story as the reader is just as anxious for Asami to return to the story as he is and like Aoyama, we know that there is a slight mysterious allure to Asami but it doesn’t override the story until those final moments which pack just about as much punch as the film does (although in a slightly different manner).
Murakami is very adept at creating mood and atmosphere which Audition is very much filled with which is why his work is so popular and well regarded. He is an author worth taking a look at.