Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

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2 Responses

  1. Shaili says:

    I agree with what you say about Kino – it was the best story in the anthology. However, I am not sure if I caught what you call casual misogyny in the stories. Women are always there in each story, having affected the central character in a profound way.

  2. Jeff Alford says:

    Hi Shaili,

    Thanks for your message. Interesting to hear you didn’t get a misogynist-vibe — maybe this is me overcomplicating my reading, but I just felt that nearly all the women in these stories were one-note cookie-cutter characters, developed more as simple ideas to affect the men in the stories than actual characters. I agree that women are always there, and consistently affect the men, but it seemed to me like that was their sole duty and they were interchangeable throughout the collection.

    Murakami can be so good with his characterization… take Norwegian Wood, for instance — Toru, Naoko and Midori are all vivid, fully realized characters and I felt like I got to know them throughout the novel and their romance. Of course, a short story limits one’s time to get to know a character, but I think all the women in this collection were there not to be fleshed out into a real-life renderings but more to vaguely, conceptually support the men as they learn about themselves. In this way, one could read Murakami as reducing the role of women to objects and conceptual support. And that, to me, was a bit troubling.

    Considering the maturity of Colorless Tsukuru and the hubbub about 1Q84 being Murakami’s first novel with a female protagonist, this just fell flat. I’m a big Murakami fan so it was all a bit disappointing.

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