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Men Without Women

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Best Seller
Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are lovesick doctors, students, ex-boyfriends, actors, bartenders, and even Kafka’s Gregor Samsa, brought together to tell stories that speak to us all. In Men Without Women Murakami has crafted another contemporary classic, marked by the same wry humor and pathos that have defined his entire body of work.


“[A] beguilingly irresistible book. Like a lost lover, it holds on tight long after the affair is over.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Affecting. . . . Murakami is a master of the open-ended mystery. . . . His meandering, mesmerizing tales of profound alienation are driven by puzzling circumstances that neither his characters nor readers can crack—recalling existentialist Gabriel Marcel’s assertion that ‘Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be experienced.’” —The Washington Post

“Classic Murakami. . . . [His] voice—cool, poised, witty, characterized by a peculiar blend of whimsy and poignancy, wit and profundity—hasn’t lost its power to unsettle even as it amuses.” —The Boston Globe
 
“Time and again in these seven stories, Murakami displays his singular genius.” —Los Angeles Times
 
“Intimate, captivating and poignant. . . . A short story is brief enough to be perfectible—and Men Without Women showcases that.” —The Kansas City Star

“Beautifully rendered.” —Financial Times
 
“[Murakami] remains in top form.” —San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Each of the seven stories here [is] a gem in and of its own right, but strung together they’re a sparkling strand of precious stones, the light refracted from each equally brilliant but the tones varying subtly. . . . I have something of a love/hate relationship with short stories. Too many mediocre offerings leave me despairing of the genre, but then a collection like Men Without Women comes along and all is forgiven, my faith restored in the recognition of how utterly perfect the medium can be—in the right hands.” —Lucy Scholes, The Independent
 
“Charming and funny.” —Vulture 
 
“The best of these stories hold the excitement of a quest: These odd episodes of awakening desire show men startled into an awareness of how they have shorted themselves on life.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
“Murakami’s greatest strength is his creation of environments just eccentric enough to wrong-foot you—not exactly magical realism, but perhaps enigmatic realism. . . . When his writing is at its best, his characters act as a fisheye lens through which to scrutinize a slightly off-kilter world that surrounds them.” —The New Republic
 
“Masterful. . . . The mundane gives way suddenly, like an ice floe cracking under our feet, only to reconstitute itself a moment later and swallow up that brief glimpse of what lies below.” —Vice
 
“A whimsical delight. . . . Sanity might be overrated, but Murakami is surely not.” —The Christian Science Monitor
© Elena Seibert
HARUKI MURAKAMI was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into more than fifty languages, and one of the most recent of his many international honors is the Cino Del Duca World Prize, whose previous recipients include Jorge Luis Borges, Ismail Kadare, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Joyce Carol Oates. View titles by Haruki Murakami
The call came in after one a.m. and woke me up. Phones ringing in the middle of the night always sound harsh and grating, like some savage metal tool out to destroy the world. I felt it was my duty, as a member of the human race, to put a stop to it, so I got out of bed, padded over to the living room, and picked up the receiver.

A man’s low voice informed me that a woman had vanished from this world forever. The voice belonged to the woman’s husband. At least that’s what he said. And he went on. My wife committed suicide last Wednesday, he said. In any case, I thought I should let you know. In any case. As far as I could make out, there was not a drop of emotion in his voice. It was like he was reading lines meant for a telegram, with barely any space at all between each word. An announcement, pure and simple. Unadorned reality. Period.

What did I say in response? I must have said something, but I can’t recall. At any rate, there was a prolonged period of silence. Like a deep hole in the middle of the road that the two of us were staring into from opposite sides. Then, without a word, as if he were gently placing a fragile piece of artwork on the floor, the man hung up. I stood there, in a white T-shirt and blue boxers, pointlessly clutching the phone.

How did he know about me? I have no idea. Had she mentioned my name to her husband, as an old boyfriend? But why? And how did he know my phone number (which was unlisted)? In the first place, why me? Why would her husband go to the trouble of calling me to let me know his wife had died? I couldn’t imagine she’d left a request like that in a farewell note. We’d broken up years earlier. And we’d never seen each other since–not even once. We had never even talked on the phone.

That’s neither here nor there. The bigger problem was that he didn’t explain a single thing to me. He thought he needed to let me know his wife had killed herself. And somehow he’d gotten hold of my phone number. Beyond that, though–nothing. It seemed his intention was to leave me stuck somewhere in the middle, dangling between knowledge and ignorance. But why? To get me thinking about something?

Like what?
One of the Best Books of the Year: The Washington Post, NPR, and Esquire

“[A] beguilingly irresistible book. Like a lost lover, it holds on tight long after the affair is over.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Classic Murakami. . . . [His] voice—cool, poised, witty, characterized by a peculiar blend of whimsy and poignancy, wit and profundity—hasn’t lost its power to unsettle even as it amuses.” —The Boston Globe
 
“Time and again in these seven stories, Murakami displays his singular genius.” —Los Angeles Times
 
“Intimate, captivating and poignant. . . . A short story is brief enough to be perfectible—and Men Without Women showcases that.” —The Kansas City Star

“Beautifully rendered.” —Financial Times

“Affecting. . . . Murakami is a master of the open-ended mystery. . . . His meandering, mesmerizing tales of profound alienation are driven by puzzling circumstances that neither his characters nor readers can crack—recalling existentialist Gabriel Marcel’s assertion that ‘Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be experienced.’” —The Washington Post
 
“[Murakami] remains in top form.” —San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Each of the seven stories here [is] a gem in and of its own right, but strung together they’re a sparkling strand of precious stones, the light refracted from each equally brilliant but the tones varying subtly. . . . I have something of a love/hate relationship with short stories. Too many mediocre offerings leave me despairing of the genre, but then a collection like Men Without Women comes along and all is forgiven, my faith restored in the recognition of how utterly perfect the medium can be—in the right hands.” —Lucy Scholes, The Independent

“Charming and funny.” —Vulture
 
“The best of these stories hold the excitement of a quest: These odd episodes of awakening desire show men startled into an awareness of how they have shorted themselves on life.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Murakami’s greatest strength is his creation of environments just eccentric enough to wrong-foot you—not exactly magical realism, but perhaps enigmatic realism. . . . When his writing is at its best, his characters act as a fisheye lens through which to scrutinize a slightly off-kilter world that surrounds them.” —The New Republic
 
“Masterful. . . . The mundane gives way suddenly, like an ice floe cracking under our feet, only to reconstitute itself a moment later and swallow up that brief glimpse of what lies below.” —Vice
 
“A whimsical delight. . . . Sanity might be overrated, but Murakami is surely not.” —The Christian Science Monitor

About

Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are lovesick doctors, students, ex-boyfriends, actors, bartenders, and even Kafka’s Gregor Samsa, brought together to tell stories that speak to us all. In Men Without Women Murakami has crafted another contemporary classic, marked by the same wry humor and pathos that have defined his entire body of work.


“[A] beguilingly irresistible book. Like a lost lover, it holds on tight long after the affair is over.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Affecting. . . . Murakami is a master of the open-ended mystery. . . . His meandering, mesmerizing tales of profound alienation are driven by puzzling circumstances that neither his characters nor readers can crack—recalling existentialist Gabriel Marcel’s assertion that ‘Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be experienced.’” —The Washington Post

“Classic Murakami. . . . [His] voice—cool, poised, witty, characterized by a peculiar blend of whimsy and poignancy, wit and profundity—hasn’t lost its power to unsettle even as it amuses.” —The Boston Globe
 
“Time and again in these seven stories, Murakami displays his singular genius.” —Los Angeles Times
 
“Intimate, captivating and poignant. . . . A short story is brief enough to be perfectible—and Men Without Women showcases that.” —The Kansas City Star

“Beautifully rendered.” —Financial Times
 
“[Murakami] remains in top form.” —San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Each of the seven stories here [is] a gem in and of its own right, but strung together they’re a sparkling strand of precious stones, the light refracted from each equally brilliant but the tones varying subtly. . . . I have something of a love/hate relationship with short stories. Too many mediocre offerings leave me despairing of the genre, but then a collection like Men Without Women comes along and all is forgiven, my faith restored in the recognition of how utterly perfect the medium can be—in the right hands.” —Lucy Scholes, The Independent
 
“Charming and funny.” —Vulture 
 
“The best of these stories hold the excitement of a quest: These odd episodes of awakening desire show men startled into an awareness of how they have shorted themselves on life.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
“Murakami’s greatest strength is his creation of environments just eccentric enough to wrong-foot you—not exactly magical realism, but perhaps enigmatic realism. . . . When his writing is at its best, his characters act as a fisheye lens through which to scrutinize a slightly off-kilter world that surrounds them.” —The New Republic
 
“Masterful. . . . The mundane gives way suddenly, like an ice floe cracking under our feet, only to reconstitute itself a moment later and swallow up that brief glimpse of what lies below.” —Vice
 
“A whimsical delight. . . . Sanity might be overrated, but Murakami is surely not.” —The Christian Science Monitor

Author

© Elena Seibert
HARUKI MURAKAMI was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into more than fifty languages, and one of the most recent of his many international honors is the Cino Del Duca World Prize, whose previous recipients include Jorge Luis Borges, Ismail Kadare, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Joyce Carol Oates. View titles by Haruki Murakami

Excerpt

The call came in after one a.m. and woke me up. Phones ringing in the middle of the night always sound harsh and grating, like some savage metal tool out to destroy the world. I felt it was my duty, as a member of the human race, to put a stop to it, so I got out of bed, padded over to the living room, and picked up the receiver.

A man’s low voice informed me that a woman had vanished from this world forever. The voice belonged to the woman’s husband. At least that’s what he said. And he went on. My wife committed suicide last Wednesday, he said. In any case, I thought I should let you know. In any case. As far as I could make out, there was not a drop of emotion in his voice. It was like he was reading lines meant for a telegram, with barely any space at all between each word. An announcement, pure and simple. Unadorned reality. Period.

What did I say in response? I must have said something, but I can’t recall. At any rate, there was a prolonged period of silence. Like a deep hole in the middle of the road that the two of us were staring into from opposite sides. Then, without a word, as if he were gently placing a fragile piece of artwork on the floor, the man hung up. I stood there, in a white T-shirt and blue boxers, pointlessly clutching the phone.

How did he know about me? I have no idea. Had she mentioned my name to her husband, as an old boyfriend? But why? And how did he know my phone number (which was unlisted)? In the first place, why me? Why would her husband go to the trouble of calling me to let me know his wife had died? I couldn’t imagine she’d left a request like that in a farewell note. We’d broken up years earlier. And we’d never seen each other since–not even once. We had never even talked on the phone.

That’s neither here nor there. The bigger problem was that he didn’t explain a single thing to me. He thought he needed to let me know his wife had killed herself. And somehow he’d gotten hold of my phone number. Beyond that, though–nothing. It seemed his intention was to leave me stuck somewhere in the middle, dangling between knowledge and ignorance. But why? To get me thinking about something?

Like what?

Praise

One of the Best Books of the Year: The Washington Post, NPR, and Esquire

“[A] beguilingly irresistible book. Like a lost lover, it holds on tight long after the affair is over.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Classic Murakami. . . . [His] voice—cool, poised, witty, characterized by a peculiar blend of whimsy and poignancy, wit and profundity—hasn’t lost its power to unsettle even as it amuses.” —The Boston Globe
 
“Time and again in these seven stories, Murakami displays his singular genius.” —Los Angeles Times
 
“Intimate, captivating and poignant. . . . A short story is brief enough to be perfectible—and Men Without Women showcases that.” —The Kansas City Star

“Beautifully rendered.” —Financial Times

“Affecting. . . . Murakami is a master of the open-ended mystery. . . . His meandering, mesmerizing tales of profound alienation are driven by puzzling circumstances that neither his characters nor readers can crack—recalling existentialist Gabriel Marcel’s assertion that ‘Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be experienced.’” —The Washington Post
 
“[Murakami] remains in top form.” —San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Each of the seven stories here [is] a gem in and of its own right, but strung together they’re a sparkling strand of precious stones, the light refracted from each equally brilliant but the tones varying subtly. . . . I have something of a love/hate relationship with short stories. Too many mediocre offerings leave me despairing of the genre, but then a collection like Men Without Women comes along and all is forgiven, my faith restored in the recognition of how utterly perfect the medium can be—in the right hands.” —Lucy Scholes, The Independent

“Charming and funny.” —Vulture
 
“The best of these stories hold the excitement of a quest: These odd episodes of awakening desire show men startled into an awareness of how they have shorted themselves on life.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Murakami’s greatest strength is his creation of environments just eccentric enough to wrong-foot you—not exactly magical realism, but perhaps enigmatic realism. . . . When his writing is at its best, his characters act as a fisheye lens through which to scrutinize a slightly off-kilter world that surrounds them.” —The New Republic
 
“Masterful. . . . The mundane gives way suddenly, like an ice floe cracking under our feet, only to reconstitute itself a moment later and swallow up that brief glimpse of what lies below.” —Vice
 
“A whimsical delight. . . . Sanity might be overrated, but Murakami is surely not.” —The Christian Science Monitor

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