the most intelligent thing I've seen written about Ryu Murakami is the comment "R. Murakami seems to be able to write in two modes: either the blood-splattered horror-grotesque or the long diagnosis-of-Japan through its undercasts narration." the former, it would seem, tends to be short, intensely good works 5/5 and not a notch less; the latter is a mixed bag, oscillating many times between the 3/5 and the 4. I skipped large sections of 69; Popular Hits of the Showa Era could not rate more than a 3/5; and even Coin Locker Babies did not absolutely sit firmly in the 4 or 5 rating.
with Fatherland, (or "Peninsula," I suppose), it's tough to outright commit to the 3 or 4. the problem is that there are lyrical passages, and Ryu Murakami has created so many amazing things that one feels compelled to attach a holistic halo around his entire body of work. how much cheaper would the world be without Miso Soup? how could we ever remove 'Audition' from our bookshelves? these short, hard-hitting works reside in memory even years after reading...
I've settled on the 4 for this reason, despite the animesque / even science-fictiony over the top passages of this work. the thing is that to some degree we have to counteract all the obsessive love fest going on with HARUKI Murakami, and of course, it's bold and daring to take on the North Korean issue, with a scenario that in some ways isn't as far-fetched as first sight. further, with increasing K-popular culture flooding the world including East Asia, the "invasion by Koreans" thing isn't entirely non-factual-- if, to be sure, there aren't that many north korean commandos walking around Japan (one thinks).
in guess in compromise to the various forces at work here, I'll rate at the 4/5 until there's more traction/readership and then think about the slide down to the high 3. continuation of "Popular Hits of the Showa Era" ; a sort of late career decline from the absolute brilliance of earlier works, animey and over-the-top, but support for Japan's #2 writer !