Book Review – First Person Singular by Haruki Murakami

Rating: 4 out of 5.

First Person Singular is a new collection of short stories by Haruki Murakami. In typical Murakami fashion, all of the stories are told in first person by narrators that are never given names. Also in typical Murakami fashion, most of what is written here blurs the line between reality and fiction.

Readers of Murakami will recognize some of these stories as at least semi-autobiographical. There isn’t a distinction made between what is a lived experience by Murakami and what is pure fiction through the eyes of a different narrator. I expect that the truth for most of the stories lies somewhere in between. Some of the stories feature clear elements of imagination, like talking monkeys and conversations with Charlie Parker, but Murakami handles them with a deadpan that doesn’t make them feel out of place with the rest of the collection.

Anyone who has read multiple Murakami books before will recognize many of the same themes that his work typically reflects on. Those themes primarily being: dealing with events that blur ones perception of reality, sex, women, jazz and classical music, the Beatles, and more. It would be more notable had these themes not been present in a Murakami short story collection.

Like any collection, some of the stories hit better than others. It’s not Murakami’s finest work but it kept me entertained. If you aren’t already a fan, there’s probably nothing here that’s going to convince you otherwise. It is at least a shorter introduction to Murakami’s story telling style if you aren’t looking for a 1Q84-level of investment. For those that are fans, it’s a solid collection and I don’t think you’d regret picking it up.

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