First Person Singular: Stories (Hardcover)
“Some novelists hold a mirror up to the world and some, like Haruki Murakami, use the mirror as a portal to a universe hidden beyond it.” —The Wall Street Journal
A mind-bending new collection of short stories from the internationally acclaimed Haruki Murakami.
The eight stories in this new book are all told in the first person by a classic Murakami narrator. From memories of youth, meditations on music, and an ardent love of baseball, to dreamlike scenarios and invented jazz albums, together these stories challenge the boundaries between our minds and the exterior world. Occasionally, a narrator may or may not be Murakami himself. Is it memoir or fiction? The reader decides.
Philosophical and mysterious, the stories in First Person Singular all touch beautifully on love and solitude, childhood and memory. . . all with a signature Murakami twist.
About the Author
HARUKI MURAKAMI was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into more than fifty languages, and the most recent of his many international honors is the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award, whose previous recipients include Karl Ove Knausgård, Isabel Allende, and Salman Rushdie.
"Murakami’s engrossing collection offers a crash course in his singular style and vision, blending passion for music and baseball and nostalgia for youth with portrayals of young love and moments of magical realism . . . Murakami’s gift for evocative, opaque magical realism shines in “Charlie Parker Plays Bossa Nova,” in which a review of a fictional album breathes new life into the ghost of the jazz great, and “Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey,” wherein a talking monkey ruminates with a traveler on love and belonging. Murakami finds ample material in young love and sex, showcased in “On a Stone Pillow,” in which a young man’s brief tryst with a coworker, unremarkable in itself, takes on a degree of immortality after she mails him her poetry . . . These shimmering stories are testament to Murakami’s talent and enduring creativity."
—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“Whether in his epic-scale novels or in his shorter works, much of Murakami's appeal has always come from the beguiling way in which his characters react to wildly fantastical events in the most matter-of-fact manner, ever ready to accept how the twists and turns of everyday life can blend into more audacious alternate realities. In these eight stories, we see that phenomenon most disarmingly in "Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey," in which a monkey strides into a sauna at a remote hotel and asks the narrator if he would like to have his back scrubbed . . . The glue that holds together Murakami's blending realities—in these stories and, indeed, in all of his fiction—is always the narrator's love for something (a woman, a song, a baseball team, a moment in the past) that is both life-giving and deeply melancholic. Masterful short fiction.”
—Bill Ott, Booklist (Starred Review)
“You can’t have a conversation about literary fiction of the past 50 years without mentioning Haruki Murakami, and First Person Singular reminds us why. . . . As one of the standard-bearers of contemporary magical realism, Murakami has traveled deep into the hearts and minds of both his characters and his readers. In First Person Singular, he offers eight new stories, all told in first person—hence the title—as perhaps memoir, perhaps fiction. For example, “The Yakult Swallows Poetry Collection” finds a baseball-loving writer named Haruki Murakami musing on his favorite team and the ties that bind us together. Murakami is always blurring lines, and here it’s left up to the reader to decide what’s real. By distorting reality, the author creates a special closeness to his audience, and he acknowledges this relationship with intelligence and grace.”
—Eric Ponce, BookPage
"A new collection of stories from the master of the strange, enigmatic twist of plot . . . Music is never far from a Murakami yarn, though always with an unexpected turn: Charlie Parker comes in a dream to tell one young man that death is pretty boring and meaningless . . . Murakami’s characters are typically flat of affect, protesting their ugliness and ordinariness, and puzzled or frightened by things as they are. But most are also philosophical even about those ordinary things, as is the narrator of that fine Beatles-tinged tale, who ponders why it is that pop songs are important and informative in youth, when our lives are happiest . . . An essential addition to any Murakami fan’s library."
—Kirkus (Starred Review)
“The versatile and prolific Murakami collects eight first-person stories that affirm his obsessions—American pop music and magical realism, baseball and sex—yet break new literary ground. From a messy hookup to an imaginary Charlie Parker album to a monkey masseur, the Japanese maestro taps the weirdness of the everyday, exposing conflicts that simmer within us all.”