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Birthday Stories

3.55  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,945 Ratings  ·  150 Reviews
This is a collection of 13 birthday stories from some of the most distinguished authors of recent years. The stories have been selected and introduced by Haruki Murakami.
Hardcover, 182 pages
Published January 8th 2004 by Harvill Press
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Shaimaa Ali
May 24, 2015 Shaimaa Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was Murakami's plan to collect some short stories that their main theme is about birthdays to translate them to Japanese. I have read this beautiful anthology in my birthday & I've enjoyed Murakami's selection a lot. Not to mention that as expected, his short story"Birthday Girl" outweigh all the others .. But he introduced me to new, contemporary writers that I would have never heard about ..
I truly liked "the Moor: Russel Banks", "The Birthday Cake: Daniel Lyons", " Angel of Mercy, Ang
Suad Shamma
Apr 28, 2015 Suad Shamma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2015
I found this to be quite a strange collection of "birthday" stories. Some were highly enjoyable, others were just a little bizarre. I cannot honestly say that any of them stood out as a favourite of mine, but I did like ones better than others.

Murakami's story at the end, "Birthday Girl", about a waitress who gets to make a wish on her 20th birthday was one of the stories that I enjoyed. A wish that is never revealed to us, which of course annoyed me to no end because I am an incredible curious
Mar 28, 2011 Paula rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Birthday Stories' is an interesting collection of stories, some that I enjoyed and some that I did not enjoy, my favourite stories were 'Turning' by Lynda Sexson, the story of a young boy being told a story by his three elderly ladies, a different kind of story to tell a young man but there was a message behind it which I really liked. 'Angel of Mercy, Angel of Wrath', the story of Eleanor Black who on her 71st birthday has crows flying into her apartment, which initially frightens up but leads ...more
Krishna Sruthi Srivalsan
This is a collection of stories, selected by Haruki Murakami, each one of them revolving around birthdays. Knowing the theme of the anthology, you would expect this to be a cheery, feel-good read. But nope. Almost all the stories have a certain melancholy about them, a feeling of loss, and loneliness, leading you to deeply contemplate. Some of them leave you feeling strangely haunted.

I don't think this book will be enjoyed by everyone. But it did appeal to my introverted self, and I found myself
Ye Lin Aung
Jan 13, 2016 Ye Lin Aung rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
In the introduction of the book, the editor (and in one case, the author), Murakami, himself, mentioned that he hoped the reader to find at least one of the stories in the book, gives you real pleasure and makes the reader to spend part of his/her next birthday re-reading it.
I dare say it hit the spot. I am going to re-read some of the stories, if not the whole book, on my next ( 17th, if you believe me :p ) birthday.
Honestly, I enjoy only some of the stories and I don't quite understand some.
Kunjila Mascillamani
My ex roommate's ex boyfriend had gifted this book to her on one of her birthdays. When they broke up she left it here for me. It's much later that i realized that it was a collection edited by Murakami and not completely written by him. There are some good stories in the collection.

'Dundun' by Denis Johnson is one i liked. I plan to look the author up and read more by him. Some style that i liked which seemed cinematic to me, in the way words were put,
'You'd think the sky didn't have any air
Hani Abdullah
This is one of a number of Murakami books I bought in one go and this being my third Murakami read, I can say it's the most disappointing up till now. I feel Murakami was infatuated with the concept, that being an anthology of shorts that revolve around birthdays, and somewhere along the way was more obsessed to finish it than make a good anthology. Not all concept good on paper do well beyond.Though it's a nice idea, the majority of the stories were a bit bland and tasteless. I found myself for ...more
A. Adlilah
The book started on a good and heartwarming note with Murakami's introduction. His notes on his own birthday made me think about my own birthday, and maybe that was the point on why Murakami decides to made a collection of birthday themed short stories, he wanted the reader to reflect on their own birthdays. His introduction felt close to my heart, it was very personal especially for me who have never read any of his works apart from his fictional works, it's like getting a new glimpse of Muraka ...more
May 10, 2016 Bjørn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: anthology, 2016
My favorite short story anthology.
Aug 11, 2013 Rikke rated it really liked it
A collection of short stories with one theme in common: they're all about birthdays - and yet they are nothing alike.

The collection is dipped in a sea of melancholia and sadness, as birthdays are often associated with reflections and a profound outlook on the life that has passed by. People find themselves longing for closure, for hope, and for something more than they ever got.

My favorite story was perhaps the first one in the collection. 'The Moor' by Russell Banks is lingering in the back of
Rich Gamble
Jan 12, 2012 Rich Gamble rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Birthday stories is a somewhat hit and miss. Having already read and enjoyed Murakami’s own story contribution in blind willow sleeping woman and the Raymond Carver story in what we talk about when we talk about love I still felt it was worth a read having wanted to try some Denis Johnson and David Forster Wallace. The previously mentioned authors were highlights for me along with new discoveries Andrea Lee and Russell Banks. The rest were ok with some rather disappointing. I really enjoyed Mura ...more
Dec 01, 2011 Ranee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all readers who think birthdays are cool
Recommended to Ranee by: a bystander in NBS who was laughing while reading this book
Shelves: my-murakami
This is the first of the Murakami book I have read. It is not really his own book,he just introduced it. A bunch of great writers happened to have a short story made with a theme on birthdays and they sort of wanted to compile it. Though this is not wholly authored by Murakami,this was the book that made me so curious to find him and read him and it all too funny, it wasn't my birthday when I bought this book, at least not for the next 10 months!

So what about birthdays? What makes them special?
I bought this book as a birthday present to myself, with the initial aim of reading one story per day until my birthday came. I'm sad to say I completely failed in that. But anyway.

I'm kind of disappointed in that book. Some of the stories were nice, some were not, but isn't that usually the case with stories collections? You rarely like everything. But this isn't what inherently disappointed me. Most of the stories were sad, about lonely people, about old people, about people whose lives weren'
Aug 01, 2011 Gina rated it liked it
My second attempt this month at a collection of short stories. The stories in this collection were by all different authors, selected by Haruki Murakami. I think that the multitude of authors contributed, in some part, to my increased like of this book over the other (Dave Eggers' How We Are Hungry). In addition, I liked Murakami's short introduction of the author and critique of the work before each story (as well as in the introduction). The stories themselves were interesting, as well, though ...more
Jaime Mozo Dutton
Jul 25, 2016 Jaime Mozo Dutton rated it liked it
Given that the work collected in this anthology is from some of the most accomplished writers of fiction currently in print I thought I would have been left feeling far more moved and inspired by Birthday stories. It's not that it wasn't enjoyable or that I didn't discover new writers but it's just that maybe the best works of each writer wasn't selected as the theme of the collection did not permit it.
The Russel banks story, The Moor, is a hi light, simple and beautiful.
Denis Johnsons tale, Du
Jun 22, 2016 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I guess this year is a watershed one book-wise. This is the second story collection that I read and enjoyed.

The premise is simple: Murakami selected 12 stories (and wrote a special one for this collection) all centred around the themes of birthdays. Generally the problem with anthologies such as this one is that the quality is inconsistent but out of the 13 stories I didn't like one (lewis Robinson's ride). Murakami chose carefully and there's variety. Some highlights? Well I thought that Daniel
Rushati Mukherjee
Aug 17, 2014 Rushati Mukherjee rated it liked it
Really loved most of the book, including the introduction! Outstanding favourite: David Foster Wallace's "Forever Overhead". His prose is glorious. I realised his prose style is very similar to how I like my poems to be. I am in shivers of delight. MUST. READ. EVERYTHING BY HIM.
Stories that capture the essential loneliness of the human condition are heartbreaking and stay with the reader for a long time. Such are "Angel of Mercy, Angel of Wrath" and "The Birthday Cake". Very touching, both.
Nose in a book (Kate)
The book started life as a collection of works in English translated into Japanese by Murakami, with an added short story of his own that he wrote specially. For this English edition he has written an introduction about the curation process and perhaps reading this first gave me a slightly negative start. First, Murakami freely admits that he is not a big birthday person himself and that the stories he found tend to be dark and unhappy. Second, he struggled to find enough stories and ended up as ...more
May 19, 2016 B.Kitanov rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-i-own, tri
Really disturbing and hard to read stories. I didn't like a single one, they're so confused and not understandable. I adore Murakami, he's one on my favorite novelists these days but this collected stories aren't the cup of my tea and I must rate this book with two stars.
Apr 24, 2016 Darcey rated it liked it
This book has a lovely red robin on the cover, and the quote from Time-out is "the perfect year-round present".

Yet its content is not as sweet as its cover. A collection of short stories related to birthdays, most of the stories are sad or strange ones.

I recalled a story of an elderly couple expecting to celebrate their son's birthday at home, only to have his son's friend visiting and stealing their valuables; a lonely old lady having the joy of making small lies on her birthday; a father tryi
Eugene Leventhal
Mar 05, 2015 Eugene Leventhal rated it really liked it
This collection hit the spot in terms of what I was looking for: stories from various authors around a single topic. This is the first short story collection of Murakami's (as in collection of other authors, not just his own stories) that I've read, and I am very happy with his selection. It gave me the chance to read stories from some authors I've been meaning to read (David Foster Wallace and Raymond Carver) and exposed me to a number of authors I've never read any works of but now very much w ...more
Maria Frandsen
This was my very first Haruki Murakami book, even though this really isn't a book by him, and with it, I started my year of Murakami. Most of the stories were enjoyable, some of them were highly interesting and a few of them are truly great, the last category includes my ultimate favourite 'Turning' by Lynda Sexson, Birthday Girl by Haruki Murakami which I could relate a lot to and "cannot remember name, will insert later".
I liked to variety of authors and how the stories were different each tim
Grace Lee
Jun 29, 2007 Grace Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
birthdays may not always be happy
Jul 17, 2013 D rated it really liked it
This book is a collection of birthday stories selected by Murakami. He has selected some best of the stories including one of his own for this book. I was really looking forward to read this book. There are many reasons behind it and one of them is..I actually wanted to see what kind of stories would Murakami choose. Well! I wasn't wrong. Some are dark and you might find some weird considering that these are birthday stories. Exciting part was Murakami's view about his own birthday. A part of Mu ...more
Suzanne Bhagan
Feb 23, 2015 Suzanne Bhagan rated it really liked it
This is an anthology of "birthday stories" culled by Japanese great, Haruki Murakami. Many of the stories are from American authors and recount a day in the life of several protagonists. One of my favourite stories was "The Birthday Cake" about a crochety old woman who refuses to let someone else have the last birthday cake in the cake shop. I also enjoyed "Forever Ahead" by David Forster Wallace which was about an adolescent boy musing on getting older while standing on a diving board.
Väčšina poviedok bola pomerne dosť meh (ale to tak s poviedkami v antológiach už býva). Najlepšie poviedky: The Birthday Cake od Daniela Lyonsa, Forever Overhead od Davida Fostera Wallacea (aj keď tú som celkom nepochopila, ale čítala sa výborne), Angel of Mercy, Angel of Wrath od Ethana Canina, Close to the Water's Edge od Claire Keegan a, samozrejme, Murakamiho Birthday Girl.

Tak či tak, je to dosť zaujímavé čítanie, keď máte narodeniny :)
Oct 17, 2007 Christine rated it liked it
This is an anthology of lots of wonderful stories–seemingly eclectic but tied together through that theme of Birthdays (and also tied together by the fact that they were all chosen by Haruki Murakami). It’s an amazing exploration of birthdays told by a diverse group of writers, from various nations, of different genders and generations. My favorites are the choices of Ethan Canin (”Angel of Mercy, Angel of Wrath”), Raymond Carver (”The Bath”), and William Trevor (”Timothy’s Birthday”).

As for Mur
Pardis Parto
Jul 23, 2013 Pardis Parto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ناگهان یاد مادربزرگش می افتد که پس از پیمودن آن همه راه و با مهلت یک ساعته اش، و با اینکه شناگر ماهر رودخانه ها بوده تن به آب دریا نزده بود. وقتی از او علتش را پرسیده بود، گفته بود چون نمیدانسته عمق دریا چه قدر است. جای عمیق اب کجا میشود و کجا پایان می یابد. مرد جوان روی سطح آب شناور میشود، بعد آرام به سوی املاک نورانی ساحل بازمیگردد. با اینکه تا آنجا فاصله ی زیادی است، چراغهای پنت هاوس در آسمان شب واضح اند. وقتی به قسمت کم عمق آب میرسد، سینه خیز می آید و روی شن ها می افتد. نفسش به شماره افتاده. ...more
Michael Whiteman
As with a lot of collections, I enjoyed some of the stories here more, some less. Other than Murakami, I had never read anything by any of the authors included, so it was a good introduction to some writers I probably wouldn't have picked out before. My favourite stories were "Turning" by Lynda Sexson and Murakami's own "Birthday Girl". Both have some slight fantasy to them, a little twist on reality. I think I need that from a story in order to hook me, otherwise things start to feel too slice- ...more
Todo: correct the general introduction to say 13 stories

13 sad stories. all the shorts in this book have the sad undertone to them that makes me think of them as sad stories, even when they aren't in themselves sad.

I don't know what I was expecting, but in a anthology of birthday stories, I certainly was expecting at least 1 happy blow the candles, make a wish story, but all the stories have this undertone of death or cheating. Or they have such an open ending that makes think the worst happened
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Haruki Murakami (Japanese: 村上 春樹) is a popular contemporary Japanese writer and translator. His work has been described as 'easily accessible, yet profoundly complex'. He can be located on Facebook at:

Since childhood, Murakami has been heavily influenced by Western culture, particularly Western music and literature. He grew up reading a range of works by Am
More about Haruki Murakami...

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“No matter what they wish for, no matter how far they go, people can never be anything but themselves” 7 likes
“Sometimes I get the feeling that everything that happened to me was some kind of illusion. It’s as though something happened to make me think that things happened that never really happened at all. But I know for sure that they did happen.” 0 likes
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