Men without Women
Penguin Books Australia
Men Without Women is a 2014 collection of short stories by Japanese author Haruki Murakami, which was recently translated in English in a fluent and colloquial manner by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen.
In essence the stories are about men who have lost their women, usually to other men or death.
While this might like a depressing topic, the stories are actually enjoyable and philosophical as they display Marukami’s astute understanding of both youth and age, infused with the unique mélange of melancholy and humour – at times tragicomedy - that has become somewhat of a trademark for his writing and his characters’ curiosity being the motor behind the respective narrative angles.
Murakami revives the genre of short stories, which is riddled with many mediocre offerings, with each of the stories being able to stand for themselves but the total of them being more than the sum of the individual parts, with clear an defined prose subtly covering nuances, a claviature of tones and not lacking impact despite their seemingly quiet nature on the surface.
The fact that that impact is achieved by sometimes a single arresting sentence conveying unexpected eventuality shows Murakami’s mastery, which usually unfolds in long form.
In the seven, decidedly uneven yet beautifully rendered stories, Murakami manages to write about very complex matters of profound alienation with beguiling simplicity, poignancy and wit.
Despite characteristic traits and key motifs that have pervaded Murakami’s literary emissions ever since and have becomes integral to his writing, i.e. jazz, cats, whiskey, a deep appreciation of The Beatles and Franz Kafka, he still manages to surprise and invigorate what seems to be common tropes.