Book Review: ‘Men Without Women’ by Haruki Murakami

Men Without Women Murakami

Fully Admitting to the Bias:

Not to get sappy, but I fell in love reading Haruki Murakami. That is, while I was reading one of my first Murakami books, I found myself falling in love with someone. As such, I cannot help but to have an unavoidable bias when reading his works. There is an irrepressible positive association between his narratives and the events of my life at the time of reading them. That being said, it should be no surprise to say that I enjoyed Men Without Women, the writer’s latest publication in English, a collection of seven stories, each focused on protagonists or characters who, in one way or another, find themselves alone. Though not at his best, there is still something of worth here.

A Rainy Day Read:

As with his other works, the subdued voice is there. Each story reads in a quiet, thoughtful manner. Nothing spiking or uneven about it. These are rainy day stories. Tales meant to be read in a nook by the window with a cup of coffee and a few thoughts going through your head about whether or not isolation is as ubiquitous as you might think.

The stories lack some of the aspects that made me come to enjoy Murakami’s works (elements of magical realism, pleasant phone calls, sheep men), but there is a warmth of sympathy that suffuses the pages, a concern about the very real problem of isolation in Japanese culture, and the difficulty that can pervade human interaction, the inevitable distance between one psyche and another.

Here are seven quiet stories. Nothing life changing for me, nothing that tugged my imagination in compelling directions. Nonetheless, what I can say is that these are a suitable addition to Murakami’s bibliography. Something not worth dwelling on all that much, but worth a stroll through the days of these lonely doctors, bartenders, and Gregor Samsa, just to remember that for all the connection that might occur between people, there is always a gulf that begs crossing.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Lazy Bar Cats