Book Review: Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

Men Without Women is a set of 7 short stories following Men Without Women. In each story, Haruki  Murakami explores the thoughts and lives of a man who is alone because they somehow lost a loved one- through death or due to her leaving him. The book basically pays homage to Ernest Hemingway's same titled short story collection (which I have not read)- but with stories taking place mostly in Japan and I'm assuming a more modern perspective since the collection is from 2014 but it was not translated and published in English until 2018.


As a Murakami fan, the writing style was what I expected- whimsical, almost stream-of-consciousness in a way that really makes you empathize with the narrator of each story. Murakami explores various roles such as doctors, students, actors, lovers, and is able to relate everyday themes we think about- work, relationships, and sex, and delve into how these themes play into our lives. I finished reading the stories in less than a week while I was traveling in Europe reading sporadically on various forms of public transit.

Men Without Women really makes the reader think about how people treat each other, the consequences of how we treat each other, and our place in the world/society. Murakami almost perfect captures how we frustratingly think about each other or a specific action from a significant other or other people in general, and it is crazy to think about how much time we spend worrying about ourselves or what other people think. Murakami's description of sex is blunt and uncomfortable- but easy to imagine as normal and almost against the norm of the repressive Asian culture/non-sex-positive perspective.

Men Without Women is like a modern fiction that explores the morality of relationships/how we treat others. If you like reading low-key mystery novels or like reading stories that can be interpreted in many ways, Murakami's writing has lots of possible, different meanings and each story leaves you with a profound perspective on themes such as love, loss, and lust. Especially in this era of #MeToo and strong political divides, people need to consider how we treat other and think about how our relationships impact one another.

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