Following the best-selling triumph of Kafka on the Shore - daringly original, wrote Steven Moore in The Washington Post Book World, and compulsively readable - comes a collection that generously expresses Murakamis mastery. From the surreal to the mundane, these stories exhibit his ability to transform the full range of human experience in ways that are instructive, surprising, and relentlessly entertaining. As Richard Eder has written in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, He addresses the fantastic and the natural, each with the same mix of gravity and lightness.
Here are animated crows, a criminal monkey, and an iceman, as well as the dreams that shape us and the things we might wish for. Whether during a chance reunion in Italy, a romantic exile in Greece, a holiday in Hawaii, or in the grip of everyday life, Murakamis characters confront grievous loss, or sexuality, or the glow of a firefly, or the impossible distances between those who ought to be the closest of all.
While anyone can tell a story that resembles a dream, Laura Miller wrote in The New York Times Book Review, its the rare artist, like this one, who can make us feel that we are dreaming it ourselvesa feat performed anew twenty-four times in this career-spanning book.
BLIND WILLOW, SLEEPING WOMAN
When I closed my eyes, the scent of the wind wafted up toward me. A May wind, swelling up like a piece of fruit, with a rough outer skin, slimy flesh, dozens of seeds. The flesh split open in midair, spraying seeds like gentle buckshot into the bare skin of my arms, leaving behind a faint trace of pain.
"What time is it?" my cousin asked me. About eight inches shorter than me, he had to look up when he talked.
I glanced at my watch. "Ten twenty."
"Does that watch tell good time?"
"Yeah, I think so."
My cousin grabbed my wrist to look at the watch. His slim, smooth fingers were surprisingly strong. "Did it cost a lot?"
"No, it's pretty cheap," I said, glancing again at the timetable.
My cousin looked confused. The white teeth between his parted lips looked like bones that had atrophied.
"It's pretty cheap," I said, looking right at him, carefully repeating the words. "It's pretty cheap, but it keeps good time."
My cousin nodded ...
If you're an aficionado of all things Murakami this is a collection you'll want to read cover to cover, probably in chronological order so as to see how his writing has changed over time. However, if you've enjoyed some of his earlier works but been a little bemused by others (or this is the first time you've read anything by Murakami) you'd be best to read strategically, skipping over the stories that don't resonate, and leaving a reasonable amount of time between mouthfuls.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (963 words).
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In addition to writing his own books in Japanese (which have been translated into more than thirty languages), Murakami is a skillful translator of English works into Japanese, including works by Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Carver, John Irving and Paul Theroux.
In 2006, Murakami became the sixth winner of the Franz Kafka Prize, co-sponsored by the Franz Kafka Society and the city of Prague (previous winners include Philip Roth and Harold Pinter). In 2007 he was awarded the Kiriyama Prize for Fiction for Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman but, according to the Kiriyama Official website, "declined to accept the award for reasons of personal principle". The Kiriyama Prize, established in 1996, is...
If you liked Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, try these:
David Mitchell spins genres, cultures, and ideas like gossamer threads around and through these nine linked stories.
At once a realistic, rousing adventure and a meta-tale of survival that explores the redemptive power of storytelling and the transformative nature of fiction. It's a story, as one character puts it, to make you believe in God. Winner of the 2002 Booker Prize.
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