Book Review - Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (Haruki Murakami) der=0


Diabloii.Net Member
Book Review - Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (Haruki Murakami)

A Review of Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman


Haruki Murakami

Translated by Jay Rubin and Phillip Gabriel

Paperback/Published by Vintage(2006)/Rs 250 (About 5$, I guess)

Picked this up in the train station three or four days ago on the way home, for about Rs 250(which should come to about five dollars), so I thought I might as well write a review of it. It's a collection of short stories by Murakami, with themes varying from a name stealing monkey to an evil double from a mirror. While the concepts themselves may seem somewhat cliched at a glance, Murakami's execution of them is anything but.

The book keeps his sprightly, uncomplicated prose style throughout the, which is unusual, considering that it's an anthology of stories from the eighties to 2005. Thankfully it's devoid of the pretentious language hang ups that most new age books seem to have these days.

Some of the stories were especially poignant. In Hanalei Bay a mother searches for meaning in the years following her drifter son's death, and comes across a strange conclusion to the the chronicle of his years. Another, the namesake of the collection, involves a man recalling a friend's death and a visit to the hospital under entirely different circumstances.Nausea 1979 details the story of a man with a strange addiction, and a strange curse.

People familiar with Murakami's work will recognise threads of similarity, or even direct sourcing of characters/situations from his previous work. The main character in The Year of Spaghetti is almost obviously Toru Okada from The Wind Up Bird Chronicle and another particular story, Fireflies is actually an excerpt from his seminal work, the classic Norwegian Wood.

It is to his credit as a storyteller, I suppose, that even these elemental tales stand quite well on their own, though this might have been because I had previously read the books in question. People reading this collection would most likely be directed here from one of his more well known works, so this might be a moot point. What's left to be said is that Murakami has crafted quite an interconnected universe from his multiple novels/short stories, which in itself is no small feat.

The translation is quite effective in maintaining the original feel of the books(IMHO), so I suppose special mention of Rubin and Gabriel's efforts here is necessary. It's neither heavy handed nor overly worshipful of the original text. Kudos to the translators.

The Bottom Line
Classic surrealistic short fiction. Anyone who's read (and appreciates) Murakami will enjoy this, but I'll admit that his style of weaving a tale is not for everyone. Still, if you're the sort that doesn't mind ambiguous or imperfect endings, then this is definitely worth a read. If you just plain don't like the way he writes, then you should probably steer clear of this one. Like I said before, special credit to the translators for their faithfulness to the original text.

8/10 - A must read if you're a fan of his work. If you're new to Murakami, definitely worth a look.