Book Review: Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

Men Without Women is a collection of seven short stories written by the famous writer, Haruki Murakami. Murakami’s original works are in Japanese, and his books have been translated into 50 languages. I read the English translation.

Can we take a moment to appreciate the front and back covers? The back cover starts with the word, 女 ‘woman’ and it transforms into a puzzle piece. The front cover depicts a man with a puzzle piece missing. He is a Men Without Women.

Haruki Murakami is my favourite contemporary writer. He often writes about the themes: isolation, loneliness and loss. These are stories of men who have lost important women in their lives, sometimes to other men, sometimes to death or due to complicated reasons. The impact of these women lost and gone forever cut deeply, and sometimes life will never be the same again.

I was pleasantly surprised at how different each story is. I really enjoyed reading six of the seven short stories, which is a really high number. My favourite story from this collection is “Kino.”

Murakami often writes about sex, so don’t be surprised about that if you read his works. I started reading his novels when I was in high school. Another common feature in his works is that the endings are often open to interpretation. You may be disappointed at the endings of some of these stories, or really confused. However, he gets you to think critically about the stories which draws upon your imagination and creativity. As a reader, you are an active agent.

This was a really quick read, which shows how invested I was in these stories. I love short stories because they are little gems. I recommend Murakami’s books because his writing is engaging and because he really brings his characters to life. I believe that he has a lot of knowledge on human emotions. Every time I read his books, I gain new perspectives.

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Book Review: No Longer Human

I’m branching out into book reviews now.

220px-No_Longer_Human_(Osamu_Dazai_novel)_cover.jpg

Background information: This book was written by Japanese novelist Osamu Dazai. It’s the second best selling novel in Japan. Dazai committed suicide shortly after the book was published in 1948.

The book is divided into three notebooks: childhood, high school and university, and adulthood. Yozo never thought of himself as a human. The book is about his life, and a lot of miserable events happen to him. Yozo never truly felt happiness.

I became interested in No Longer Human because a lot of people said that it was “depressing” to read. However, I never felt sad while reading it. The book is in first person and I understand why Yozo did the things that he did. I don’t think Yozo did anything wrong and never felt frustrated with his actions either. Instead, the book made me feel very calm. I never felt angry or any other strong emotion. A friend of mine stopped reading the book halfway because it became depressing to read. I had a different experience because the writing compelled me to finish the book. Even though my heartstrings were not tugged or pulled, I was interested in reading the story to the end.  I was about to finish the book without having formed an emotional attachment to it until I read the last page of the third notebook.

I was shocked. There are three sentences on the last page, and I could not believe it. The last page of the third notebook changed my view of the book completely. The writing is phenomenal! I do recommend this book.

Fair warning: It may be triggering for some people because there is suicide, death, rape, and self-sabotaging behaviour.