Excerpt from Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

by Haruki Murakami

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2006, 352 pages
    Oct 2007, 384 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

My cousin and I held on to the straps and poles. The bus was brand-new, straight from the factory, the metal surfaces so shiny you could see your face reflected in them. The nap of the seats was all fluffy, and even the tiniest of screws had that proud, expectant feeling that only brand-new machinery possesses.

The new bus, and the way it was unexpectedly crowded, threw me off. Maybe the bus route had changed since I last rode it. I looked carefully around the bus and glanced outside. But it was the same old view of a quiet residential district I remembered well.

"This is the right bus, isn't it?" my cousin asked worriedly. Ever since we got aboard I must have had a perplexed look on my face.

"Not to worry," I said, trying to reassure myself as much as him. "There's only one bus route that goes by here, so this has got to be it."

"Did you used to take this bus when you went to high school?" my cousin asked.

"Yeah, that's right."

"Did you like school?"

"Not particularly," I said. "But I could see my friends there, and it wasn't such a long ride."

My cousin thought about what I'd said.

"Do you still see them?"

"No, not for a long time," I said, choosing my words carefully.

"Why not? Why don't you see them?"

" 'Cause we live so far away from each other." That wasn't the reason, but I couldn't think of any other way to explain it.

Right beside me sat a group of old people. Must have been close to fifteen of them. They were the reason the bus was crowded, I suddenly realized. They were all suntanned, even the backs of their necks dark. And every single one of them was skinny. Most of the men had on thick mountain-climbing types of shirts; the women, simple, unadorned blouses. All of them had small rucksacks in their laps, the kind you'd use for short hikes into the hills. It was amazing how much they looked alike. Like a drawer full of samples of something, all neatly lined up. The strange thing, though, was that there wasn't any mountain-climbing route along this bus line. So where in the world could they have been going? I thought about this as I stood there, clinging to the strap, but no plausible explanation came to mind.

"I wonder if it's going to hurt this time-the treatments?" my cousin asked me.

"I don't know," I said. "I didn't hear any of the details."

"Have you ever been to an ear doctor?"

I shook my head. I hadn't been to an ear doctor once in my life.

"Has it hurt before?" I asked.

"Not really," my cousin said glumly. "It wasn't totally painless, of course; sometimes it hurt a little. But nothing terrible."

"Maybe this time it'll be the same. Your mom said they're not going to do anything much different from usual."

"But if they do the same as always, how's that going to help?"

"Well, you never know. Sometimes the unexpected happens."

"You mean like pulling out a cork?" my cousin said. I glanced at him, but didn't detect any sarcasm.

"It'll feel different having a new doctor treat you, and sometimes just a slight change in procedure might make all the difference. I wouldn't give up so easily."

"I'm not giving up," my cousin said.

"But you are kind of fed up with it?"

"I guess," he said, and sighed. "The fear is the worst thing. The pain I imagine is worse than the actual pain. Know what I mean?"

"Yeah, I know."

A lot of things had happened that spring. A situation developed at work and I ended up quitting my job at a little advertising firm in Tokyo where I'd been working for two years. Around the same time I broke up with my girlfriend; we'd been going out since college. A month after that my grandmother died of intestinal cancer, and for the first time in five years I came back to this town, small suitcase in hand. My old room was just as I'd left it. The books I'd read were still on the shelf, my bed was still there, my desk, and all the old records I used to listen to. But everything in the room had dried up, had long ago lost its color and smell. Time alone had stood still.

Translated by Philip Gabriel. Copyright (c) 2006 by Haruki Murakami

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
  • Book Jacket
    by Tom Jackson
    Growing up in Mumbai in the '70s, I still remember herbs kept fresh in small glasses of water, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    North of Crazy
    by Neltje

    The remarkable life of a woman who carves her own singular path.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Cruel Beautiful World
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A fast moving page-turner about the naiveté of youth and the malignity of power.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.