“Haruki Murakami’s Men Without Women examines what happens to characters without important women in their lives; it'll move you and confuse you and sometimes leave you with more questions than answers.” —Barack Obama
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 lovesick doctors, students, ex-boyfriends, actors, bartenders, and even Kafka’s Gregor Samsa, brought together to tell stories that speak to us all. In Men Without Women Murakami has crafted another contemporary classic, marked by the same wry humor and pathos that have defined his entire body of work.
In this collection of new stories, Murakami (1Q84) returns to familiar themes of youthful regrets, untenable romantic triangles, strange manifestations of sexual frustration, and inexplicable, often otherworldly happenings while dipping into the lives of seven middle-aged men, each caught up in the passions of a mysterious woman. In "Drive My Car," a stage actor hires a new driver, his first female chauffeur. Between rehearsing lines and listening to classic rock, the normally reticent widower begins to chat with the young driver, eventually revealing a friendship he formed with one of his former wife's lovers. In "Yesterday," a man who works at a coffee shop convinces a coworker to date his girlfriend while he works to pass his university entrance exams. In "An Independent Organ," a plastic surgeon who lives a contrived life of well-managed affairs descends into depression and starves himself to death after falling in (unrequited) love with one of his liaisons. Although the plotting can be repetitive, Murakami's ability to center the stories on sentimental but precise details creates a long-lasting resonance. For instance, the narrator of "An Independent Organ" can never use a squash racket the plastic surgeon left him: the lightness reminds him of his frail, dying body. In "Scheherazade," the standout of the collection, a man who can never be outside for unexplained reasons develops a bond with his in-home caretaker, who tells him stories after they have sex. She remembers being a lamprey in a former life and misses the profound silence of the sea floor.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Great but not his best. The stories are mostly strong, but can feel aimless. Some feel as though they were the plans for novels that couldn’t gel. Still, a better read than most, and as always, pretty amazing writing.
The first story alone makes it worth buying the book
What a beautiful search for the essence of your partner and yourself. It haunts me.