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The Elephant Vanishes: Stories Hardcover – Mar 1993

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Alfred a Knopf (Mar. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679420576
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679420576
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 15.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,079,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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.

Product Description


"How does Murakami manage to make poetry while writing of contemporary life and emotions? I am weak-kneed with admiration" (Independent on Sunday)

"Enchanting...intriguing... All of these tales have a wonderfully surreal quality and a hip, witty tone" (Wall Street Journal)

"All the stories take place in parallel worlds not so much remote from ordinary life as hidden within its surfaces: secret alleys that afford unexpected - and unsettling - views" (New York Times)

"Like the best thriller fiction, it nags you with the sensation that Something Nasty is about to happen" (Sunday Times)

"Most collections of short stories work by the interplay of different voices. This one offers the more satisfying rewards of a novel: unity of tone and a richness of recurring detail that creates its own texture: spaghetti, lawns, hamburgers, beer-drinking, kid sisters, Sunday afternoons, a man's name" (Independent) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A dizzying collection that displays Murakami's genius for uncovering the surreal in the everyday, the extraordinary within the ordinary --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Galitt on 9 April 2002
Format: Paperback
17 modern, magical, urbanic hilarious tales.
It's the first Murakami book I've read, and from now on I got addicted to his books. Murakami 's deadpan genius. King of the bizarre realm.
His stories take place in Japan, but could as well be everywhere else.
I found myself enthralled by the way he writes, captivated
To his ideas, fascinated by his way to see the unnatural in a so natural way.
The confusion of the young people in his stories is funny, touching and so familiar. Everything could happen; anything is for real if you can see it in your head. Everyone's normal, just the circumstances aren't...
It left me with the taste and desire for more! One by one I swallowed all of his other books.
I had never got disappointed from any of the others, but I found these short stories as the essence of all that I like about his books, and I keep reading it again and again.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By D. Jackson on 26 May 2004
Format: Paperback
I couldn't believe the average rating for this book when I looked it up on Amazon either and just had to comment. I've just finished this book and have thoroughly enjoyed it. In any collection like this there will be some pieces that are stronger than others but I suspect that different readers will realate to/get more out of each piece than others. The thing that really fascinated me is that some of the stories cover a fairly long period of time and are presented in the form of snapshots: specific scenes or observations that capture an emotion or a scene in such an effective way.
I was really drawn in to this book and couldn't put it down. The only reason I haven't given it five stars is that there are a few stories I didn't really get a lot of out but it certainly wasn't a chore to read them all the same.
I'm definitely going to go out and buy another book by this author. I hope that this is helpful to you!
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Dec. 2002
Format: Paperback
Americans seem to be fascinated by the culture of Japan. We wonder endlessly about a group of islands that can produce things as diverse as Noh drama, zen gardens and Nintendo games. American writers, too, can't seem to get enough of Japan, e.g., Jay McInerney, John Burnham Schwartz and Michael Crichton.
Haruki Murakami, one of the most original and brilliant authors writing today, gives us an entirely different look at life in Japan in his collection of short stories, The Elephant Vanishes. These stories show us Japan "from the inside." What might seem exotic to both Americans and Europeans, such as oyster hot pot or pillows filled with buckwheat husks, becomes, in these stories, the stuff of everyday life. In fact, Haruki Marakami's Japan could be "anyplace," and one has to read eleven pages into this collection before the first reference to Japan is ever made.
In The Elephant Vanishes, Murakami's narrators are as much "Everyman" as are the narrators of his novels. They are young, urban and charmingly downwardly mobile. And, they are more likely to eat a plate of spaghetti than soba noodles. They listen to Wagner and Herbie Hancock but eschew Japanese rock music. They read Len Deighton and War and Peace rather than Kobo Abe and The Tale of the Genji. They are Japanese, to be sure, but all their points of reference seem to be exclusively Western and signature Murakami.
In the world of Haruki Murakami, bizarre events take place with striking regularity and, also with strikingly regularity, they are accepted as simply the stuff of everyday life. In The Wind-Up Bird and Tuesday's Women, the narrator's search for a missing cat leads him to a closed-off and neglected alleyway passing between the backyards of parallel houses.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By "jello_girl" on 29 Aug. 2003
Format: Paperback
It's late at night, I'm very tired but while looking around Amazon and seeing this book only getting one star, I had to put in my 5 cents, 2 dimes, 3p- whatever (I'm tired ok?) I recently read this book and it reflects exactly how the Japanese culture represents to me. Watching anime cartoons or meeting Japanese people, anything Japanese- brings a feeling in me that is encompassed in this book. The style of writing is simple, and unembarrassed- by that I mean it isn't over littered with psychologial, intellectual condescending tidbits here and there to please people who want to think they're reading something clever. Any intellectual musings you have about the stories, Murakami allows you to do for yourself. Overall, you've got to expect the eccentricity of some of the stories. Sometimes the endings are open, sometimes the conclusion is perfect. 'On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning' was one that definitely brought back that unique type of sadness that some Japanese animated films have- a sad, inexplicable melancholia. It made me think and is definitely one of the best short stories I've ever read not only because of it's originality, but also because of it's structure, it's form- jumping from present to future to past back to present again so seamlessly. In some ways, the simplicity of the narrative reminded of the novel 'Naive. Stupid' by Erlend Loe so expect a kind of scandanavian essence to his story-telling. Another notable aspect of this book is the way that Haruki Murakami makes the narrative so filmatic. Not only in describing his characters- but also the scents, the scenery, the colours- every nuance of the characters' environment is described poetically and again with that Japanese 'thing' that I can't put into words.Read more ›
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