BOOK REVIEW: MEN WITHOUT WOMEN

Men Without Women is a collection of seven short-stories exploring the myriad relationships between men and women.

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Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

Author: Haruki Murakami

Publisher: Random House UK

Publishing Date: 16 August 2017

Pages: 240 Pages

Language: Japanese, English

Translator: Philip Gabriel, Ted Goossen

Country: Japan

Rating: 4/5

“Here’s what hurts the most,” Kafuku said. “I didn’t truly understand her–or at least some crucial part of her. And it may well end that way now that she’s dead and gone. Like a small, locked safe lying at the bottom of the ocean. It hurts a lot.”

Tatsuki thought for a moment before speaking.

“But Mr. Kafuku, can any of us ever perfectly understand another person? However much we may love them?” 

Men Without Women was selected by the Murakami Book Club on Instagram as the choice for June. What is it about Haruki Murakami that makes me want to come back to his stories time and again? His surreal plots and absurdism have given me several sleepless nights and some existential thoughts. I derive a sense of familiarity and trust when I sit down to read a Murakami novel. I become a different version of myself and he makes me question my view of the world. His writing makes a lot of sense even when the plot becomes absurd. Murakami is all about this sense of chaos and familiarity.

Men Without Women is a typical Haruki Murakami novel. There are cats, jazz music, whiskey, sex and strong women, loneliness and a sense of alienation. As the tittle suggests, Men Without Women is about men who have, in some or the other way, found and lost their women. Like all Murakami’s protagonists, the characters are ordinary people and that’s what makes them so relatable.

Haruki Murakami deftly creates a world where these men are lost and vulnerable. They don’t want power, neither do they fantasize about ruling the world. They are lonely and seeking these elusive women. There are plenty of women in Men Without Women. They are lovers, friends, spouses, companions or just mere listeners. The women are mysterious and elusive. They bring pain, love and betrayal but always remain out of reach. The men struggle to define them, understand them and try to processes them, but in the end, they are not sure if they have succeeded.

There is a lot of wisdom about life in Men Without Women. The women, like life itself, are elusive and complicated. Then men try to understand them and eventually learn to accept them, surrender to them or simply erase them.

Men Without Women is an understanding of the male heart. Murakami has skillfully woven tales of men who are hurt, lonely and sad. They need as much understanding as the other sexes. The tales are thrilling, sometimes funny and melancholic. It would be interesting to see what male readers think about these tales.

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