Book review of Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

Review by Vipul Murarka

Men Without Women is a beautifully sad collection of short stories by Haruki Murakami. These 7 short stories along with sort of an Epilogue will leave you empty from within. The stories may not be classic but something that the reader will resonate with.
Reading Muakami’s work needs a different frame of mind. This book is no different. You will be left with a lot of questions unanswered but at the same time you will feel that what you have read is just about complete and perfect. In each of the stories, there is longing yet the character seems to be contented. There is loneliness but the character is open to discover. The tone of the writing is melancholic but still beguiling.
There will be many moments in the books that will make you stop reading and drift to your own real world. Some of the quotes that stuck with me are “Like a blackboard wiped with a damp cloth, he was erased of worries, of unpleasant memories”
“Like dry ground welcoming the rain, he let the solitude, silence and loneliness soak in”
“A gentleman doesn’t talk much about the taxes he paid or the women he sleeps with”
“Maybe working on the little things as dutifully and honestly as we can is how we stay sane with the world is falling apart”
“Words, they felt, could only cheapen the emotions they were feeling”
“So in the end maybe that’s the challenge: to look inside your own heart as perceptively and seriously as you can and to make peace with what you find there.”
“Music has that power to revive memories, sometimes so intensely that they hurt”

These stories brought back memories from deep within and left me yearning for relationships lost. I don’t usually read short stories but since it was Murakami and it had been a while since I last read Murakami, I picked it up. For some reason, I need a break from Murakami after I read his work. It will be after sometime only that I will pick his book again. I guess last book of Murakami’s that I read was Sputnik Sweetheart and that was 2 years ago. Before that was A Wild Sheep Chase, 3 years before reading Sweetheart. As I said, you need to be in a particular frame of mind to read Murakami. What that frame of mind is, I am still trying to figure it out.
Beautiful translation work has been done spectacularly by Phillip Gabriel and Ted Goossen and it will be difficult to compare which translation is better. Writing is very simple yet captivating. The linkage between the fictional to story to that of daily life is marvellously dealt with and you are surely going to imagine while reading these stories.
Murakami fans must pick this up instantly and read these beautifully sad short stories.
Rating: 5 out of 5

About the reviewer :

Vipul Murarka likes to learn something new every time he picks up a book. He has done BSc (Hons) in Plant Biotechnology from University of Nottingham after which he has done MBA in Marketing from School Of Inspired Leadership. Right now he resides in Myanmar doing business in agriculture.

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