Haruki Murakami's Short Stories

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Haruki Murakami’s short stories

Haruki Murakami pens many a short story about a disenchanted character walking through life without much of a reason to be there. His protagonists share a sense of isolation from the other characters; their siblings, significant others, parents and coworkers all fail to get through to them in their different quests to find answers to life’s most important questions. Example: why did a strange man appear at the foot of my bed and lead to my eventual inability to get a good night’s sleep? The literal isolation of the characters from meaningful relationships creates an overarching sense of isolation in the mood of the stories, making the reader too feel as though no one understands them.

The protagonists of each of Murakami’s stories share a sense of loneliness and disconnect with the people around them. In “Sleep,” the protagonist is a woman who has inexplicably lost her ability to sleep. This leads to her discovery of her disinterest in her life. The mundane aspects of her marriage, her relationship with her son, her duties in her everyday life, all become suddenly and horribly apparent to her. However, she does not feel propelled to tell her aforementioned husband or son about her problems with sleep. “Neither my husband nor my son has noticed that I’m not sleeping. And I haven’t mentioned it to them. I don’t want to be told to see a doctor. I know it wouldn’t do any good. I just know. Like before. This is something I have to deal with myself. So they don’t suspect a thing.” This inability to share experiences with family members illustrates the general attitude Murakami creates within his stories.

Obsession with things separate from the self is very apparent in Murakami’s work. “The Kidney Shaped Stone that Moves Everyday” is a short story in which the protagonist himself is a short story author. Junpei’s own life experiences, in particular his father’s advice that only three women in a man’s life have real meaning to...
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