Book Review : The Elephant Vanishes

The Elephant VanishesName: The Elephant Vanishes
Author: Haruki Murakami
Genre: Short Story
Language: English (Originally in Japanese)
Pages: 327
# of Stories: 17
Theatrical Adaptation : “Sleep” “The Second Bakery Attack” and the title story by British theatre company Complicite and Many More..
Buy: FlipKart, Amazon
My Rating :

A remarkable writer… he captures the common ache of the contemporary heart and headJay Mclnerney

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

I never be fond of Short Stories. Whenever I read any short story, I always feel tiresome or feel something missing on characters build-up and most of time, it is true because author never get chance to build Characters or environment for reader in very little number of pages. I read lots of Murakami’s work and know his ability to create compelling characters in just a few paragraphs, and place them in absurd situations, is unrivaled. So I picked-up “The Elephant Vanishes” written by him, which is comprise of 17 short stories including Title Story. Perhaps “The Elephant Vanishes” is the best collection of 20th/21st century urban short stories I have ever read.

In all 17 Stories, Murakami shows off his trademark humor, wit, and versatility while spinning tales about his favorite topic: humanity. Be aware though, Murakami’s stories, often darkly comic – and moving from the ordinary to the extraordinary, can and often do end at a blank wall. So don’t always expect Murakami story endings to provide resolution where all becomes clear, everything is resolved and loose ends are tied up – or you may be disappointed.


The humorous “The Second Bakery Attack” in which midnight hunger pangs drive young newly-weds (who feel a ‘weird presence’ in their lives) to hold up a McDonald with a shotgun in the middle of the night and rob it of 30 Big Macs;

Barn Burning“, in which the narrator listens to the story of a man whose hobby is burning barns; and

The Silence“, in which a young man, following an act of physical aggression, feels the isolation and ostracism of being cold-shouldered by his social community.

Murakami is at his best when he goes heavy on surrealism as is the case in Sleep and The Elephant Vanishes; stories that also happen to be the longest ones in this collection. The characters in them struggle mightily to make sense of the situations they find themselves in.

A woman in Sleep” experiences a prolonged bout of insomnia which seems to energize her at first but then at the end leads her to a situation that’s like a worst nightmare.

While in “The Elephant Vanishes“, a man has a bizarre explanation for an event that’s very bizarre by itself; a zoo elephant that vanishes without a trace.

Similarly, In “The Dancing Dwarf” the main character works at an elephant factory, and that’s not even the weird part.

That pretty much sums up the book. It’s a wonderful blend of magical realism and understatement.

Some Good lines from Book:

  • I realize now that the reality of things is not something you convey to people but something you make. It is this that gives birth to meaning.
  • And everywhere, infinite options, infinite possibilities. An infinity, and at the same time, zero. We try to scoop it all up in our hands, and what we get is a handful of zero. That’s the city.

I certainly haven’t regretted my decision one bit as reading these short stories provided hours of uninterrupted fun. In fact, I re-read some of them several times. Get it and Read /Re-Read it.

About Author:
Haruki Murakami Source [Wiki]: Haruki Murakami is a Japanese writer and translator. His works of fiction and non-fiction have garnered him critical acclaim and numerous awards, including the Franz Kafka Prize and Jerusalem Prize among others. He is considered an important figure in postmodern literature. The Guardian praised him as “among the world’s greatest living novelists” for his works and achievements.Murakami’s fiction, often criticized by Japan’s literary establishment, is humorous and surreal, and at the same time digresses on themes of alienation and loneliness.Through his work, he is able to capture the spiritual emptiness of his generation and explore the negative effects of Japan’s work-dominated mentality. His writing criticizes the decline in human values and a loss of connection among people in Japan’s society.

Enjoy Reading !!!

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2 Responses to Book Review : The Elephant Vanishes

  1. Pingback: Book Review : Love, Peace & Happiness + Author Talk | Ujval's Lounge

  2. Pingback: Book Review : Love, Peace & Happiness + Author Talk « Ujval's Lounge

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