Book review: Men Without Women

Men Without WomenMen Without Women

As you probably know if you have been following this blog for a while, I usually do not currently read short stories. But of course, there are always exceptions to “the rule”. And with Murakami, my favorite Japanese author, exceptions are allowed. So I did request Men Without Women, his latest book, as soon as my library had it on order, and I managed to receive it on its release date. Thank you public libraries!

I knew it was a collection of short stories, but there was no way I would skip a new book by him.

Anyway what I really enjoy in Murakami is his style, it’s no problem if I read hundreds of pages without any plot. That works well for short stories. So I dived into it without reading any other review, and I loved it.

There’s some type of controversy going on, because he gave to its collection a title used by Hemingway. I have to say, I don’t really care about that issue. It’s actually a good title to cover the main theme recurrent to the seven stories: how men are doing when they find themselves without women, for one reason or another.

If you have read other books by Murakami, you will recognize his style of writing, so flowing and yet at the same time so attentive to details; a lot of loneliness, cats, and the love of jazz, among other things.

My favorite story was without hesitation the one before last, entitled Samsa in Love. It is also the most surreal. You remember of course Gregor Samsa in Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Well, his story is reversed here: when he wakes up, he finds himself transformed from insect to human, and has to get used to this new and strange body. So good!

If you love Murakami, you don’t even need me to tell you to read his latest book!
If you have never read him before, I would suggest to try 1Q84, his best and most representative, according to my humble opinion. Or Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.

I am very glad Murakami invited me to get out of my comfort zone in reading short stories.

VERDICT:  Very enjoyable collection of short stories, where you can easily recognize the hand of the master. My favorite Japanese author.

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What’s your favorite short story collection?
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6 thoughts on “Book review: Men Without Women

  1. Interesting. I’ve always found this title (though I was thinking of Hemingway)….just a bit amusing. I have Murakami on my short story TBR, so this seems like a good choice. I may read it back to back with Hemingway.

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  2. I have not read any Murakami, so I will heed your advice on where to start. In this story collection the inversion of The Metamorphosis does sound good. Unlike a novel, a short story can pivot around a single idea and this one is simple but brilliant. Murakami has the skill and imagination to see it through, from all you say.

    As for favorite short story collections, I can think of a few: The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, The Revolt of Mother by American author Mary Wilkins Freeman, Winter’s Tales by Isak Dinesen, stories of William James, and The Arabian Nights.

    I should try some that are more recent! 🙂 And Murakami would be a very good choice. Thanks.

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