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Book review: Men without Women by Haruki Murakami

Men without women by Haruki Murakami

The collection of short stories titled “Men without women” by Haruki Murakami, consist of 7 short tellings of love, loneliness and losing. Centered around men and their perceptions of women.

Summary

“Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are lovesick doctors, students, ex-boyfriends, actors, bartenders, and even Kafka’s Gregor Samsa, brought together to tell stories that speak to us all”

This summary is borrowed from www.harukimurakami.com

Reading Murakami

So, if you’ve followed my blog for a while, you might know already that I am a Murakami fan. The first book I ever read by him, was “Hardboiled wonderland and the end of the world”. That book was my choice for the Japanese book in my Reading the World reading challenge. But, as these are short stories, they are a little different.

It weirdly felt that these short stories, were ‘less Murakami’ than the other books I’ve read. So far, though, I’ve only read three, including Men without Women. It’s been a few months between reading it and sitting down to write this review. And I hardly remember all the stories. They didn’t leave a big impression on me, although they were each good. Well written, poetic and beyond trivial dialogue. Which I love about Murakami’s writing. But, for some reason, it just did not stick with me that well.

Men without women – or without companionship?

Murakami really has a way of creating universes – big and small. And the theme in this short story collection is very clear. Men, who, for some reason, haven’t really got women in their lives to speak of.

Throughout the novels, what really stayed with me, was a peculiar feeling. The feeling of not sharing life with someone. Not necessarily in a romantic (or erotic) way. But, like these men all seem to struggle with, is finding authentic companionship and thus, contentment. The stories are all well-crafted and the men are similar in the aspects that we as humans are, but indeed different personalities and lives.

Had I read this book before any of Murakami’s longer novels, I might have compared it more to Kukrit Pramoj’s “Many Lives”. Both paints a picture of lives being full, but not necessarily fully lived. In exquisite, little, everyday details.

My favorite part about books and stories like these are the way lives that are so different, suddenly feel familiar (in some aspect or other). Definitely read it if you’ve enjoyed Haruki Murakami’s other books so far, or if you like short stories about people discovering what life could be like, for them. Without any soggy romance, heros or worlds in danger.

Are you a Haruki Murakami fan yet? Or have you read other books by Japanese authors that I should try? Let me know which book should be my next, in the comments below!

If you’re curious and want to browse through other book reviews on this page, feel free to have a look at my collection of book reviews right here>>

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