Book review: “Blind willow, sleeping woman” by Haruki Murakami

To put it in the simplest possible terms, I find writing novels a challenge, writing short stories a joy. Haruki Murakami

Murakami readers are typically divided into 2 camps: those who love Murakami and those who do not understand Murakami. I belong to the first camp and I’ve been reading his novels for more than a decade. In the COVID-19 times, it is a good idea to come back to the amazing work of Murakami. Since I’ve already read most of his work, it was a challenge to find a book I haven’t read yet. So, this time it is “Blind willow, sleeping woman” – a collection of 26 short stories. I was reading one story before going to bed and every day I had a great sleep. Most of you already know that Murakami is not a mainstream writer, his books are mysterious, haunting, melancholic and thought provoking.

What is the connection between the stories in the book? For me, it is a lot about feeling, the strange enlightenment that the world is different from what it seems. While reading Murakami, it is important to relax and switch off your logical mind. Otherwise, your mind will be constantly telling you that the book doesn’t make sense. Your mind constantly demands logical arguments, clear story endings and solid plots. When you switch off your common sense, reading Murakami becomes a journey to the new realities. I certainly enjoy this feeling when my common sense world is being turned upside down (How about a talking monkey or the Ice Man?).

I must admit, that I love Murakami novels more than his short stories. Yet, this beautiful book has done its job. I feel that the world is way more interesting and colourful than it seems (it is so hard to stay at home all the time due to COVID lockdown). Murakami’s stories are great at leaving space for imagination and creativity. I especially like the surrealist details. What was so unique about the bus in “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman”? “What was the present in the “Birthday girl” story? What has happened to the man in “Where I’m likely to find it?” What is the business of “Dabchik?” Why did Miss Matsunaka kill herself in “The Shinagawa Monkey?”

Once again Murakami helps me to come back home. Murakami reading is a form of meditation. It is so weird, I am not Japanese but these stories seem so familiar to me. Maybe because we both like Dostoyevsky and Kafka?

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