It’s really unusual to start talking about your favorite author chosing an essay and not one of his most famous novels. But Underground is really important, in my opinion, to understand his novels and his poetics in general.
Underground is a collection of interviews about the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway: in 1995 some members of the religious sect Aum, founded in 1987 by Asahara Shōkō, released sarin inside the subway trains – sarin, a gas invented during WWII by the Germans, a single drop of it can kill a human being. This attack caused thousand of victims and about 12 deaths. The book collects the interviews of the survivors: they tell where they were, how they reacted and how this attack still influences their lives. Among these interviews we also find the interviews to the members of the Aum, which is actually another book published in Japanese as “約束された場所で―underground 2″, translated as “the place that was promised, underground 2”, quothing An Old Man Awake in his Own Death by Mark Strand.