After aimless college years, Hajime finds his feet. He marries well and with help from his father-in-law sets up two jazz bars in Tokyo, which he manages with aplomb. At thirty-seven he is happily settled with Yukiko and their two daughters... Until Shinamoto reenters his life. She appears and disappears unpredictably, but eventually Hajime will have to make a choice between his past and his present.
The plot of South of the Border, West of the Sun is not particularly original or substantial, but it serves as a skeleton for an exploration of sex, love and obsession. Hajime's personal story, elements of which are apparently autobiographical, is a moving tale of teenage romance and angst and of mid-life crisis and nostalgia. There are also some more general ruminations; though slender, these manage to avoid glibness.
It's a simple but powerful little novel — this is the first Murakami book I have read, but I'll be reading more.