Review: Men Without Women (Stories)

Men Without Women

Men Without Women
By Haruki Murakami, Translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen
Knopf Publishing Group, Hardcover, 9780451494627, May 9, 2017, 240pp.

The Short of It:

A collection of stories that embody everything you love about Murakami.

The Rest of It:

Murakami’s new book came out in Japan not long ago but those of us in the US must wait for the translation before we can eagerly dive in.  Somehow, the Murakami Gods heard our cries and delivered to us a “new” story collection to tide us over.

However, it’s not all new.

One story in particular, which also happened to be my favorite, previously appeared in The New Yorker. As I was reading Scheherazade,  it was vaguely familiar to me but you know what, it really didn’t matter that I had read it before because every time I pick up Murakami’s work, there’s always something new to discover.

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a bookstore and there is a finely curated shelf full of recommendations? That’s how I feel about this collection. I don’t know how much input he actually had in putting these stories together, but they all complement one another and include everything you love about Murakami. The angst, the food talk, the weird little quirks and it was just good to get this little taste of Murakami before the big release of his new book. This collection centers on men and their relationships with women. Some of the stories are more complex than others but all of them leave you pondering relationships in general.

Murakami is what I recommend any time someone says they are in a reading rut and I think many of you have read some of his books based on my eternal gushing. BUT IF YOU HAVEN’T,  you must. I can’t accurately describe the feeling I get when I read one of his books but there’s this sense of one-ness that comes over me and suddenly nothing matters but the story in front of me.

Read this collection and then read Killing Commendatore when it comes out. No details on the US release as of yet.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

14 thoughts on “Review: Men Without Women (Stories)”

  1. I love what you say about a “sense of oneness.” For me, too.

    However, I was a tad disappointed that all but two of these short stories have been published in the New Yorker. I have them saved in my IPhone, now at least I have them hardbound. But, it isn’t a new collection as I thought.

    1. I thought there might have been one other previously published, but didn’t confirm. All but two? Publishers shouldn’t advertise it as a new collection. I once read a book for a tour and realized I had read it once before under a different title. That really bugged me.

      1. Men Without Women, Drive My Car, and An Independent Organ are new; Yesterday, Scheherazade, Kino, Samsa in Love have all been in The New Yorker. So, three new, my bad. 😉

  2. You are so right, re-reading Murakami is always a treat. You most definitely always find something new to appreciate in his work. I was disappointed that these stories weren’t new (well four of them weren’t). I had read them in The New Yorker and loved them then. I just didn’t expect to find them in his “new” book of shorts. Either way, I loved them again. I’m glad you enjoyed the book – I knew you would 🙂 I can’t wait until they translate his latest book – hurry up!!! Oh and I heard they are releasing another book of shorts titled Desire later this year – all the stories are from his previous short story collections. So, they aren’t new either, but I still plan to read them. How could I not? Its Murakami 🙂

    1. I want to start buying all of his books to have for my collection but they keep changing the cover art. I waited for a long time for the Red/Black/White versions to hit the US but they didn’t. They had some in the UK but not all. I have the old covers and they look messy on my shelf.

    1. Which book of his did you try? My faves are Kafka on the Shore and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle but both are WAY out there. Kafka was the first book of his that I read and at about page 50 I was convinced he was on some sort of acid trip when he wrote it but then it clicked. There is a longing and a loneliness to his writing. I find his characters to be rather simple but placed in extraordinary circumstances (usually).

  3. Just listened to part of an audio sample on male vs female drivers. I guess I favor more economical writing–say it and get out. We are all different.

    1. I’m hopeful but you can probably skip Kafka on the Shore because it features a cat murderer. Although, the cats talk so there’s that.

  4. I knew you would love this and recommend it. I’ve only read Murakami, but I liked it. I’ll have to check out some of his others. I like short stories, so maybe this is good for me.

    1. Oh lord no! I don’t think I’d know what to say to him. He taught at a US university for a semester and I was like, why could I not be in that class?? He doesn’t do many meet-ups in the US. If he did do one near me, I would definitely try to see him if not just to gaze at him from afar.

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