The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami: reviewed

This large collection of short stories was written way back when the author had a fresh and exciting talent. Several of these tales have a surreal element which stems from a fascinating imagination bubbling away. Franz Kafka may be an influence as some reviewers have stressed, but there is something distinctive in the narratives in question.

For me, there is seemingly an autobiographical flavour to the conclusion of the final piece of text. A salesperson has opted to live in a sphere of pragmatism. He has chosen a life of mundane success, barely touched by the magical world he has left behind. However, the poignancy of this fragment is matched in other parts of the book. And the translations seem to have been performed with skill. One of the more moving stories is a reflection on someone who used to read a lot and who has taken it up again:

“All I wanted was to get back to my book. I wanted to stretch out alone on the sofa and munch on chocolate while I turned the pages of ‘Anna Karenina.'”

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