Beaches, Weird Animals, and Surreality: Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman Book Review

During my readathon I hosted for myself that lasted from Monday to Wednesday, I finished Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami. This is a collection of 24 short stories written by the famous Japanese writer. I have never read any of his work before and I was very excited to read these short stories, because a lot of my friends have loved him and his work.

I expected that Murakami’s short stories in this book are realistic, but I was pleasantly surprised to find some of them also had fantasy elements to it. I really enjoyed the themes he put into the short stories, and although all these stories aren’t connected to each other, they really have that similar feel and tone that I know is special only to Murakami’s style.

cover1Of course in a collection of short stories like these the readers will find that they’d dislike some of the stories and liked the others. One of my favourite to read for me was Birthday Girl, A Folklore For My Generation: A Pre-History of Late-Stage Capitalism, Hunting Knife, The Seventh Man, and A Shinagawa Monkey. I would also like to show a special mention to Dabchick, the short story that made me laugh the hardest with the absurdity of its ending.

Now I won’t tell you my thoughts about these stories one by one, I’d rather you just read them yourself. But overall this collection was filled with very beautiful stories, and some did leave an impression on me. I would maybe prefer to read it in the original language but I can’t because I can’t read Japanese, which is too bad because reading these in English, I can really feel that the writing style and the story felt too much like a translation and has a less personal feel. It’s like Murakami’s feelings while writing the stories bled out a little and was replaced with the stiffness of the translation.

One thing that I noticed about this book is that some of the stories have a similar theme and objects that can be found. For example, I actually really liked stories that are set near the beach. There were a lot of stories in the book that involve the characters on a holiday in the beach, either in Hawaii, Greece, or Japan. And the way the beach was described felt so real, the sun, the water, and the wind at night.
Another aspect that I saw resurface more than once or twice in the stories are animals. It seemed like Murakami really like nature and wild creatures – in some of these stories he’d wove in different kinds of animals, from birds to kangaroos to monkeys. Reading all the stories, I felt like they were all interconnected, and the feelings they created, though some might not be the same, have a similar taste as well. The main characters for most of the time also make me feel like it was Murakami himself retelling a story of his friend or something he heard. Most of the stories also involve themes like family, smoking, being content with a person but not exactly being in love, and all of them seem very personal and really touching.

Plot-wise, some of the stories in the collection have a weird storyline and the ending would leave me with question marks on my brain. Some would flow so weirdly from the beginning. But all of them flowed so smoothly and makes the readers interested, and want to read more. And maybe some of the endings of the stories were absurd, but they all can really pull out a certain emotion from you, the reader nonetheless.

Title: Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman: Twenty-Four Stories
Author: Haruki Murakami
Publisher: Vintage International
Date Published: 2006
Num of pages: 362
Date read: October 21st, 2015
Goodreads Link
Book Depository Link
Where I Bought It

And so, despite its weird plots and some parts that were lost in translation, all 24 stories in this book were beautifully written and leaves you with a deep and profound feeling. When you read them, you can really feel the tone and setting of each scene, and you’ll feel like you’re living a surreal life after finishing them. It’s a very impressive collection of stories, and I wouldn’t mind rereading some of these again and again.

4 stars




  1. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman is probably my favourite Murakami book, and I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed it as well! They are definitely surreal, but I actually find that personally Murakami works best in smaller doses (essentially short fiction)—I felt that 1Q84 was much too long and too convoluted to be wholly enjoyable. Have you read his other works?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I enjoyed this book a lot! No, this is my first Murakami book, although I did try to read 1Q84 like a year ago. I’m actually really interested to read his novels, I’ll tell you when I decide to read another Murakami book 🙂


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