First Person Singular: Stories

Author(s): Haruki Murakami

Short Stories | Read our reviews!

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.  

Where does a writer go and where do they want to take us? In Murakami’s new collection of short stories, First Person Singular, the writer is teasing at the edges, walking us into situations that at first glance seem banal, then become unsettling, sometimes a little bizarre. This will be nothing new for Murakami readers—the pace of the unfolding tale and the direct, simple style with its surprising outcome and underlying pathos are all familiar tropes. In this collection Murakami is also talking to himself, reminiscing and sharing his passions. Music, jazz and classical, comes to the fore in several. 'Cream', the opening story, has a young man on the way to a piano recital by a young woman he barely knows (an ex-fellow student who he had let down by being a tardy musician), only to find himself sitting alone in a small park having a conversation with an elderly man. He has either been duped in an act of revenge or mistaken by date and time. Either way, he is somewhat flustered by the whole experience, left clutching a cheap bouquet of red flowers with little idea of why he went in the first place. In classic Murakami style, the book opens with this deceptively dull story. Later, thinking about it, your focus comes back to the elderly man—is this a future self giving advice or a chance encounter that will change the young man’s trajectory? Or maybe encounters like this don’t encompass as much as we would like them to? In 'Charlie Parker Plays Bossa Nova', Murakami is at his most playful, enjoying his obsession with jazz and playfully imaging and reimaging a role for The Bird beyond the grave. When Charlie Parker visits the narrator in a dream sequence Murakami segues into his style of magical realism which leaves the reader in no doubt that the character is playing out an internal conversation, while at the same time being convincingly ‘realistic' or believable. If you delve a little under this story, and others in the collection, it is obvious that Murakami is also thinking about the process of creativity, of writing. There are raw edges here too, especially those stories that deal with relationships. 'With the Beatles' relays a teen relationship—starting from an oblique point and sharpening into an uneasy story about depression and suicide. It has a lightness of touch that could be seen as almost trivial but underpinning this is the tragedy of being misunderstood or trapped within a moment. Many of the stories have this outwardly simple trajectory and try to relieve themselves of a complex plot cutting to the uneasy situations that arise between people, but more essentially within one’s own psyche. Touted as partly memoir—the narrator is an ageing writer, living in Japan, who loves baseball and music—it easily can be read as autofiction. Yet the inclusion of a talking monkey, the ‘ugliest’ woman and a surreal conversation with a dead musician, makes you wonder how much Murakami is inviting his past work and his readers into the world beyond the wall, into the well, and, as he says, into the ‘under basement’. Memoir-ish pieces maybe, but more another realm to explore writing, where it takes us and how far, and how it happens. Simple and complex in equal measure.


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Product Information







General Fields

  • : 9781787302600
  • : Penguin Random House
  • : Harvill Secker
  • : 0.4
  • : October 2020
  • : {"length"=>["22.2"], "width"=>["13.8"], "units"=>["Centimeters"]}
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Haruki Murakami
  • : Hardback
  • : en
  • : 895.635
  • : 240