A warning to new readers of Haruki Murakami: You will become addicted. His newest collection is as enigmatic and sublime as ever. San Francisco Chronicle. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, Murakami’s new collection of 25 stories, many of which have appeared in the New Yorker and other. Whether during a chance reunion in Italy, a romantic exile in Greece, a holiday in Hawaii or in the grip of everyday life, Murakami’s characters confront loss.

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Review by Elizabeth Wadell Tags: Haruki Murakamitranslation.

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami

If writing novels is like planting a forest, then writing short stories is more like planting a garden. A short story collection is a strange literary form, after all. What the reader notices are the individual stories—the roses, the tulips, the marigolds—but what she hopes to remember is something more, the gestalt.

In a good collection, the proximity of one story to the others becomes the mortar that holds the tesserae of this mosaic together. Murakami has successfully gotten a collection of short stories to coalesce before. His last book of short stories to be published in English was the slim, thematically connected after the quakeconsisting of just six stories connected to the Kobe Earthquake.

It is a big book: Throughout his career, Murakami has struck certain themes again and again see the Murakami Dictionary for some examplesand many of them are here.


Something that happened to all of us. Indeed, for a writer who has written so much about youth and young adult anomie, some of the best stories in this collection are about growing older.

Yet in reading Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman one notices perhaps too much the similarity between stories. But they may seem unfamiliar, like a friend who acts one way on her own and differently when in a group; for bblind or for worse, the stories in this collection are changed by their proximity to one another.

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami | Quarterly Conversation

And this is what sets the new collection apart from after the quake: Slfeping with Blind Willowthe stories, written in different styles and at different times, seem to be less impressive as a whole than they may have been individually.

Which ones are they? The answer to that is complicated.

willpw It speaks to the two sides of Murakami the writer, and depends on what draws you to Murakami. Similarly, the short stories collected in Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman can more or less be divided up into the stories translated by Jay Rubin and those translated by Philip Gabriel.

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

In an online forum on the Random House Webpage, Rubin describes how he and another earlier translator never liked the same Murakami stories:. To me, they [the fantastic stories were] were the best stories, and Alfred [Birnbaum] was missing the boat.


We almost never asked for the same stories. It was downright strange.

A similar dichotomy is at work in this collection. By contrast, the stories translated by Gabriel stand out as the reason I read Murakami.

This more emotional Murakami, in which chance and fantastic events play second fiddle to the pain and thoughts of the characters, is the Murakami I find most inspired, most interesting. Perhaps this is because in most of the stories Gabriel translated, what one notices most is the emotional weight of what has been left unsaid. All you can do is imagine by what comes floating to the surface. A subtle interplay between tragedy and comedy wryly refusing either is Blind Woman, Sleeping Willow at its best.

And so, while this collection at times feels bloated and unruly, that is all forgivable because it is a quintessential Murakami work. You probably will not like everything, but if you like Murakami—at least one half of him—you must read it. Ordinary Sun by Matthew Henriksen Ordinary Sun at times feels like listening to confession in a parallel universe, a world with a Mario Vargas Llosa’s Carnival: Caricature in The W Though the word caricature is often used to disparage poor writing, caricature also has its use