- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Random House UK (16 August 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 191121537X
- ISBN-13: 978-1911215370
- Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.5 x 22.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 87 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #11,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Men without Women Hardcover – 1 Aug 2017
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"Supremely enjoyable, philosophical and pitch-perfect new collection of short stories. . . Murakami has a marvellous understanding of youth and age - and the failings of each" (Observer)
"Murakami writes of complex things with his usual beguiling simplicity. . . Strangely invigorating to read. . . It is Murakami at his whimsical, romantic best" (Financial Times)
"Calculatedly provocative. . ., the stories offer sweet-sour meditations on human solitude and a yearning to connect. . . Murakami, always inventive, is one of the finest popular writers at work today" (Ian Thomson Evening Standard)
"Written with all the cats, spaghetti, humor, and gentle surrealism we might expect . . . Men Without Women is a funny, lovely, unmistakably Murakami collection of seven stories about the lives of people trying to find their place in the world and reckoning with their pasts" (Buzzfeed)
"A disconcertingly funny portrait of modern loneliness" (Hayley Maitland Vogue)
"Self-schooled and uncontaminated by writerly edicts, the 68-year-old presents subjects directly on a platter before the reader. . . but stirs up all kinds of themes and truths in the allegorical mud through his gentle, almost conversational style" (Hilary A White Irish Independent)
"One of the finest pieces of short-form writing I have enjoyed in many years… If the familiar way of Haruki Murakami are an enthusiasm, there is plenty here to divert the aficionado, but he also takes a turn into riskier territory that could well coax new readers into his distinctive world" (Keith Bruce Herald)
"Moments of melancholy and humour mix with acute observation in the latest offering by Japan’s master storyteller" (Angel Gurría-Quintana Financial Times)
About the Author
Haruki Murakami is the author of many novels as well as short stories and non-fiction. His books include Norwegian Wood, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Kafka on the Shore, 1Q84, What I Talk About When I Talk About Runnin g, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, The Strange Library and Wind/Pinball. His work has been translated into more than 50 languages and the most recent of his many international honours are the Jerusalem Prize and Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award.
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Bless you Murakami!
Here we meet Scheherzade, as mysterious as the heroin of Arabian Nights, who makes love and then tells a story, and then becomes the story herself. We meet Kino, who does not know whether he is in love or not, Samsa, who is positively in love and then positively heart broken... so much that he can become the oblivion he wishes to become. Each story of a man, a woman in his life, an inability to hold the woman he so dearly wants to hold and then regret. At the end, there is regret.
The reference to Japanese life is refreshing. Here is a glimpse of another culture, another people, another way of thinking, another life. One has read too much English fiction set in America or Britain, and lately India. But the men and the women... they are the same. Nothing dramatic happens, yet one feels the joy and the sorrow, the latter more often than the former.
Murakami writes not for the young. Not for those who have not seen pain and loss in relationships yet. The men in his stories have lived their lives, have experienced love and loss and are now at a stage where they can look back at their lives, the women they had and grieve about what could have been but isn't.
The Men in these stories come across as pallid and depressed because they are deprived of a deep involvement with their women. Only in ‘Samsa in Love’ where - when outside Prague was being marauded by Germans - the protagonist (who just metamorphosed into Gregor Samsa) finds hope in the hunchbacked woman with a sharp tongue; in all other stories, the men suffer in a soulless desolation with the loss or lack of women. How incomplete man is in this state and in what different senses he depends on them for meaningful existence is splendidly displayed in each story.
For the Murakami fans the treats are there all along: Jazz, whiskey, expensive wines, running, cats, hat tips to Beatles, Kafka to name a few. Magical realism is represented but the stories are more hinged than Murakami’s typical writing. As we go along the book the stories transform from superficially mundane to deeply Existential ones, the last one ‘Men without Women’ being practically abstract.
The best part of the book, other than the superb way in which he unravels the minds of his characters, is the writing. The pacing of the stories is so splendidly measured one doesn’t have to pause to think, but can ruminate as one goes along. Of course, there are mystical gems which one would read and retread (“Maybe working on the little things as dutifully and honestly as we can is how we stay sane when the world is falling apart.” - Samsa in Love).
Personally the only reservation I have about Murakami’s writing is the reams of third party narration. Entire characters and stories are presented in staid tones. In some instances this renders some stories less evocative. The most striking example for me was ‘The Independent Organ’. For some it may look like a drab narrative about the life of a boring man: such is the monotony of narrative. Whereas layered under this simple narrative is an enquiry of existence, meaning of life and the philosophical question of suicide, their import would have certainly been amplified had there been more drama. But then, to allow you to take as much as you can from each story is perhaps the quintessential a Murakami!