"It was a me outside of me... it was me in a form that shouldn't have been me!"

Haruki Murakami

“Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman”

Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949. Following the publication of his first novel in Japanese in 1979, he sold the jazz bar he ran with his wife and became a full-time writer. It was with the publication of Norwegian Wood – which has to date sold more than 4 million copies in Japan alone – that the author was truly catapulted into the limelight.

Known for his surrealistic world of mysterious (and often disappearing) women, cats, earlobes, wells, Western culture, music and quirky first-person narratives, he is now Japan’s best-known novelist abroad.

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman is one of his acclaimed collections of short stories. In ‘Crabs’, ‘The Year of Spaghetti’ and ‘The Mirror’, Murakami confronts fundamental emotions: loss, identity, friendship, love; and questions our ability to connect with humanity, and the pain of those connections or the lack of them.


Thematically, Murakami’s work is often dream-like, with a mystical logic that is never fully explained. There are often two worlds (though we never see this other world, but things are a “different way”). Usually the protagonist ends up searching for a woman or a missing person who has gone to this other world.
Other times something has happened in this reality to hint at the other one. Sometimes there is a “dark force,” or people loosely associated with some dark force that the protagonist either ignores or simply contends with. Sometimes there is a higher being/idea actively intervening in the protagonist’s life. Nothing really directly influencing LOST, but a little of the same kind of mystery driven story-telling. I honestly can’t articulate why I connect the two based on those themes alone, but bear with me. 

A recurring theme in his work are mirrors. One short story (can’t remember the name) specifically talks about the concept of looking at oneself in the mirror and thinking that something isn’t quite right, or not quite how you “ought” to be, specifically in connection with this “other world.”

“Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman”

Haruki Murakami’s introduction to the English edition of Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman begins with this: “To put it in the simplest terms, I find writing novels a challenge, writing short stories a joy. If writing novels is like planting a forest, then writing short stories is more like planting a garden. The two processes complement each other, creating a complete landscape that I treasure.” In the States, Murakami is probably best known for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and, to a lesser degree, his most recent “big book,” Kafka on the Shore. Elsewhere, his short stories are equally, if not more so, the reason for his widespread popularity

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