Readers may be curious about Haruki Murakami due to the rave reviews of his full-length novels (ex: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, 1Q84, Kafka on the Shore), and their popularity in translation throughout the world. Those who may have resisted the call to undertake his lengthy and fantastic works might be encouraged by starting with Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, a collection of 24 short stories. With varying lengths and levels of inscrutability, the stories contained in the book are an excellent and accessible introduction to Murakami’s magical realism. The book could be described as a sampler of his gorgeous symbolism and elusive but incisive reflections on universal experience. Each story contains a provoking vision of the human condition, including such themes as: predestination; haunting choices and consequences; yearning for individual meaning; withstanding loss of love and identity; loneliness and isolation. The joys of Murakami’s prose justify the praise he has received, and any effort to decipher the layers within the tales Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman will encourage new fans to his other works. Once experienced in small bites, many will be lured into his novels-thereby immersing themselves more deeply and lingering longer in his beautifully rendered worlds.
Good for: Readers new and old to Murakami; those looking for International Fiction in translation; highly rated award-winners; fans of fully formed but linked short story collections; psychological and symbolic works of fiction.
You may like this book if you like: Kazuo Ishiguro, David Mitchell, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges and Vladimir Nabokov.