Sunday 27 June 2021

Book Review: First Person Singular by Murakami Haruki (Short Stories)

Title: First Person Singular
Author: Murakami Haruki
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Publication Date: 2021 (2020)
Format: Hardback
Genre: Short Stories
Source: Bought Copy

The eight masterly stories in this new collection are all told in the first person by a classic Murakami narrator. From nostalgic memories of youth, meditations on music, and an ardent love of baseball to dreamlike scenarios and invented jazz albums, together these stories challenge the boundaries between our minds and the exterior world. Occasionally, a narrator who may or may not be Murakami himself is present. Is it memoir or fiction? The reader decides.

I enjoyed First Person Singular, which I read over two evenings. Although I enjoy Murakami's longer works, I've always had a soft spot for his short stories, and this was another pleasing collection. My favourites were probably the title piece and 'Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey'. However, I found something of interest in all the tales. It feels like it's hard to discuss Murakami's writings these days without mentioning his portrayal of women, which is sometimes problematic (these stories being no exception), but I enjoy his works in spite of that and don't take umbrage over it. This collection is probably not the best place to start for those new to Murakami's work (try Kafka on the Shore instead), but existing fans will doubtless find something to enjoy within this collection. It gets 5 stars from me.

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