book reviews

#BookReview: Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

On the jacket:

‘I find writing novels a challenge, writing stories a joy. If writing novels is like planting a forest, then writing short stories is more like planting a garden.’

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 vanishing cats and smoky bars, lonely hearts and mysterious women, baseball and the Beatles, woven together to tell stories that speak to us all. 

Marked by the same wry humor that has defined his entire body of work, in this collection Murakami has crafted another contemporary classic.


I love short stories. To read, to write, to review and to gift. However, I have never been a great fan of Murakami’s. The last time I’d read a book by him was a few years ago, and though I have a few of his unread titles at home, I never went back to them. I will now, and the review of Men Without Women will explain exactly why. 
Men Without Women is every bit a Murakami, except his trademark weirdness, if I can take the liberty to call it that. As the title of the book suggests, the theme of the stories is – men coping without women. Murakami has stuck to the theme with a fine grace, not delving too much into emotions to make the stories forlorn, and not making them too harsh either. What I particularly liked is how true the plots are. For instance, I have known men who have had to live life without their women – some widowed, some divorced, some single and having lost their mothers and some, after a break up. We don’t talk much bout how men grasp such situations and deal with them. We forget that men are not actually taught how to deal with such loneliness. But they do, in their own way and Men Without Women  brings that out in different stories and situations, beautifully!
Earlier, Murakami’s style of writing had bothered me. But I learnt to appreciate it while reading this book. Don’t pick it up if you want to known what his style is, though. 
The stories are around male protagonists who are living rather lonely lives. But these are not very simple stories. While in one, the protagonist learns that an old lover had killed herself, in another the main character is a roach. Yes, a roach who wakes up to see that he is a human. This particular story has been haunting me for a while – I’ve been thinking since the last few days – how even did this idea come to the author’s mind! Reverse Kafka-esque. 

A wonderful read.

Rating: ****/5

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1 Comment

  1. I've never read one before this but definitely picking it up as the next book. 🙂

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