UNDERGROUND: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche, by Haruki Murakami. Translated by Alfred Birnbaum and Philip Gabriel. Random House, Vintage International; 366 pp., $14.

On Monday, March 20, 1995, Tokyo experienced a terrorist attack. Sarin gas was released in the subways. While many of the perpetrators -- members of a religious cult named Aum Shinrikyo -- are still undergoing trial, the everyday aftereffects of the attacks live on in the Japanese psyche -- a kind of double violence of social stigmatization and posttraumatic stress disorder.

Best-selling novelist Haruki Murakami sensed a gap between the media coverage and the reality of people's experience, so he returned to Japan after many years abroad to go behind the headlines. What is the Japanese psyche, and how did it give rise to something like Aum?