South of the Border, West of the Sun
By Haruki Murakami
I have a thing for the minor works of major writers. (And of the living ones, Murakami is one of the most major we have.) Of course, the works have to be gems—and this short novel, like Chronicle of a Death Foretold or The Turn of the Screw, is certainly that. It's a love story of sorts, set in a materially comfortable but spiritually lonely modern Japan of glassy offices, wearying commuter trains, and smoky bars. With the possible exception of Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye, I've never known a book that so perfectly captures that sublime romantic bittersweet mood sought after by countless late-night jazz musicians and films like Casablanca.
Ishiguro's next pick: The Odyssey