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The Elephant Vanishes

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  20,831 ratings  ·  1,146 reviews
With the same deadpan mania and genius for dislocation that he brought to his internationally acclaimed novels A Wild Sheep Chase and Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami makes this collection of stories a determined assault on the normal. A man sees his favorite elephant vanish into thin air; a newlywed couple suffers attacks of hunger that dri ...more
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published (first published 1986)
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Adriana Rosana,

Murakami is a writer that is not for every type of person. He has a very specific type of writing, like Quetin Tarantino has his very…more

Murakami is a writer that is not for every type of person. He has a very specific type of writing, like Quetin Tarantino has his very Tarnatinish style, or Pink Floyd is very Pink Floyd and nothing else; He is that type of writer that you may think, is easy to read, but is not, is not the fast food of books, is not Dan Brown. Is neither extremely hard to read, like some classics, where people just assumes that they understand what the author wrote because they HAVE to, is a thing of pride between readers, like Fausto by Goethe, or even Kafka (You have people saying: this book is about... like they totally know what it is about, but we still swimming searching for answers in the middle of the Kafka ocean).

People can hate or love Murakami, that’s it, and that is going to happen to you. Those who are in between are never satisfy with his work, or can't understand his work. The in between, that for my is a chocolate with mint, doesn't work; I may eat it because is chocolate, but I rather not to because chocolate and mint don't go together, not for me.

If you read Murakami with the idea that you are going to understand everything that it is happening, then you are reading the wrong author. His books are not for the type of reader that likes everything like smash potatoes, neither for those that like clear explanations, big finales, nit lines. If you read his books, don't link yourself to what people say in other comments (not even this comment), don't link yourself to 'professional' reviews, don't get an idea of what to expect, just enjoy, like when you try a dish for the first time. If you are planning to eat something, but you believe the reviews that say that 50% of the people thinks that the dish taste like boogers, then is going to taste like boogers (and we don't even want to admit, but boogers have verily any flavor -I ate a few when I was a kid-). Vargas Llosa may be a good author, but his opinion about this author or any other author doesn't make him a good reader, because there is not a "good reader", that doesn’t exist. Like with boogers or chocolate and mint. I don't find Murakami "frivolous" all the opposite, it makes me wander inside/outside, a warm wandering; I don't think he lacks of purpose, for me, in my life, his books are full of purpose... I'm totally in love with Murakami’s work, but some times, like in love, I just want to slap him on the face (not literally of curse, is a figuratively use of my frustrated love with some of his paragraphs in some of his books ;) ).

Pick any other of his first books, maybe one of short stories that he writes/shares for The New Yorker (, like Kino or Samsa in Love. And be ready to let your imagination create shapes and forms in an empty canvas. Let your mind paint what you read, imagine, imagine, and keep imagining, the color of the skin, the smells, flavors, face expressions, the tone of the voice, the description of spaces and no-spaces, and if there is something that you don't get, do a Vasili Kandinski type of thing, filling with lines and shapes that space that is full of "I don't get it"... then, just keep reading it, keep enjoying it. If after reading a few of the short stories you think you can take more, then move to a bigger book, if you don't get it at all, and Murakami is tasting like boogers, then don't read any more.(less)

Community Reviews

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Some authors excel at writing novels. Others excel at the short form. A few are equally adept at writing novels and short stories. From my reading of The Elephant Vanishes, Haruki Murakami is not one of those people. Here’s why:

Murakami’s novels are lush affairs. By that I mean that his proto-typically lazy character has time. Time to develop interests, time to contemplate deeply, time to be affected, to become . . . something. The short form, by its very nature, does not allow the same luxuries
Not only was the book amazing (I truly believe he can do no wrong), but one of my best friends and I saw an actual play of it several years ago at Lincoln Center. We had seats in the very front row. The play (as required, I'm sure) was balls-out crazy, all in Japanese, with a ticker doing subtitles at the the top of the stage. My memory sucks, but I think I recall a bunch of people with static-spewing TVs for heads, and some crazy shit with sideways sleeping people. Probably I should reread the ...more
Fiona McCandless

Every protagonist in Murakami's books (though, I've only read this and 'Norwegian Wood') are apathetic. They just float through their lives, never really caring about what is happening, or if there is anything they can do to fix it.
I think to some readers this could be quite tedious, but there is something real about these characters because of their apathy. Through the bizarre situations the characters face, the reader can relate on some level.

The first few stories did annoy me, as man
To Murakami's fans, I must apologize, because although I liked this collection of stories, I didn't love it. And from what I've heard, to read Murakami is to fall in love with him. However, if his novels mirror the dazzling, freakish, and surprising plot of Sleep,or have the tension that builds when you must follow outlandish characters, like the ones in The Second Bakery Attack, I'll read a Murakami novel again and again. Yet while I do admire the fragmentary poignancy of the narratives in this ...more
Jun 20, 2007 E.H. rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: literary hipsters
What can I say about Haruki Murakami? He is famous, both in Japan and abroad, although in the States those who know him tend to be Literary Hipsters who are interested in Asia. He writes novels and short stories, although his novels tend to be a bit disjointed and episodic, hinged like a Jacob's ladder. His short stories will always employ a simile at the top of the second page which may seem at times deep and yet simple.

When I started reading The Elephant Vanishes, I wasn't really sure what I
murakami short stories rock my socks. on a purely structural level, his sentence composition is brilliant. short, descriptive, simple, and undeniably beautiful in a way that perhaps only a writer with an eastern perspective could achieve. sometimes his sentences make you feel as if you are gazing from the summit of a mountain with no one else around. besides that, his blend of the absurd with the bitterly mundane is a juxtaposition that only the most skilled writer could pull off. with bizarre t ...more
James Curcio
Murakami manages to keep the mind riveted in ways that I don't even fully understand. If most of these stories were pitched to me as an editor, I'd think they were somewhere between banal and stupidly fanciful in the way of a story that a seven year-old might tell. But in his hands, they're transfixing. They'd be transfiguring as well, except that sometimes he leaves you with so little to hold on to at the end of a piece that you're left just with a feeling like "what just happened?"

But then yo
I've been deeply disappointed in Murakami before, and I seem to remember that they're always short stories that I have found useless. But this collection floats my boat. I agree with some reviews I've read that complain of the lack of variety in the protagonists' situations -- they're, almost to a one, loners, bored, alienated, and around 30. Most of them are experiencing some kind of freakish alteration in the world around them which, I take, we are meant to interpret as changes in themselves. ...more
You too can write like Murakami. Just remember the simple rules -

1) Think of something weird. Multiply the weirdness by 10.
I haven't slept for last 16 nights and 17days. Today is the 17th night. I couldn't sleep. I tried. But failed. I typed in Google Search "Insomnia". It took me to the Christopher Nolan's movie. I didn't watch that movie. I like Christopher Nolan, though. So does my cat. My cat doesn't watch any TV. But whenever a Christopher Nolan movie comes he gets glued to the TV. We all
Jul 23, 2015 Junta rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Murakami beginners, People looking for a good short story collection
One cloudy night in April, in a habitual relay of stalking the profiles of strangers on GR, I found The 100% Perfect Girl.

To be truthful, she wasn't especially beautiful in her profile picture. Nor did any particular part of her profile jump out at me. Her bookshelves were all over the place, and she didn't seem to be that active on GR any more. She hadn't written many reviews either. However, the moment I clicked on 'Compare Books', I knew. She is The 100% Perfect Girl for me. When I saw that o
Haruki Murakami is a best-selling Japanese writer. His works include 1Q84, The Wind-up bird Chronicle, etc. which have garnered critical acclaim and numerous awards. To date, I have been eyeing to read some of his latest works including this novel, The Elephant Vanishes. And now that I've finished this, I can't totally picture how I'm feeling right now, it's like I finally found my missing Tom cat for four(4) years while leaning over the edge of a boat and look down to the bottom of the sea watc ...more
May 04, 2011 Louize rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Louize by: Dr. Ranee
The Elephant Vanishes is a merger between reality and the bizarre without actually defining the difference. The characters experience unnatural circumstances pushing them to bridge the gap between the norm and the supernatural, allowing for dreamlike things to cross into their slow and quiet lives. Circumstances they won’t voluntarily talk about but neither will forget.
“I often get the feeling that things around me have lost their proper balance, though it could be that my perceptions are playi
The stories are very well written, but there is a sense of depression or resignation coursing through many of the characters. I've talked with friends who also read it, and they told me that this is because the author's writings are all meant to criticize the inflexible, suffocating nature of Japanese society in regards to its people.
It was one of the tougher reads I've had, but it was very good.
Terri Jacobson
This collection of 17 short stories was written between 1980 and 1991, and they encompass everything I like about Murakami. The stories are unusual and thoughtful. You have to be willing to enter his world and suspend disbelief, and if you can do that the rewards are great. I like Murakami's use of Western ideas and icons, which he writes as a foil against Japanese norms. The themes of the stories are Murakami standards: the isolation and alienation of modern man trying to make a life in the cit ...more
I really enjoyed this selection by Murakami, although - as is usual for me upon reading a collection of short stories - I really feel I would need to rate each story separately to give an accurate picture of my feelings on the book. There were (from my perspective) some stellar 5s, as well as some solid 3.5s/4s...and a couple of meh 2s/3s.

Murakami is a terrifically talented writer who approaches each subject from just a few degrees off-center. Even in the most mundane circumstances, things in h
Maybe Murakami was trying to make a point with the stories in this book, but, whatever that point (or points) might have been, I was certainly never able to grasp it. Every story in this book--with one notable exception--is dull and anticlimactic. The characters are usually lethargic and unlikable, and the endings feel arbitrary since nothing generally gets resolved. You might appreciate these stories as "word paintings" or some such thing, but definitely go into them expecting little in terms o ...more
I only began reading Murakami as of last year. My work mate brought into the office 'A Wild Sheep's Chase' and I was immediately intrigued by the quirky title. After being delighted by that book, I subsequently went on to buy most of Murakami's other books and each one exceeded my expectations. In The Elephant Vanishes, Murakami once again writes with such imagination and incredible prose that I was left in awe of undoubtedly one of literature's greatest writers.

I like the fact that all the emo
I have only 2 complaints, which are scarcely complaints. One is that, stylistically, the stories all read similarly. The narrator might as well always be the same character, though it's true that in many cases it actually is (and this I appreciate). It's not monotonous at all, at least not in a collection of this length, but I wonder if all of Murakami's novels are also like this. Even when the narrator is a woman, I half-internalise it as the man from all the other stories.

The second "complaint
I wish that, just once, Murakami would write something that doesn't have a first-person narrator. Or that the narrator wouldn't be a detached hipster who spends way too much time inside his own head. For that matter, the warping of the alienated protagonist's reality (dancing dwarves, little green monsters, diminutive TV gnomes, mysterious phone callers, vanishing elephants) is not a uniformly successful device either. Sometimes it's just tedious, reinforcing the idea that Murakami is just writi ...more
Samuel Mustri
The stories are meant for reading aloud and flow like poetry, some of the short stories felt too short though. They tend to evaporate into insubstantiality the minute you finish reading them.
"Second Bakery Attack'" was a joy to read. Murakami is a writer that you either love or hate.
The absolute confidence with which he writes his absurd yet profoundly beautiful has caused me to truly love him.
Haruki Murakami is one of my favorite authors, others may find his work opresive.
Reading Murakami is a
Murakami has an amazing imagination. It makes these stories seem fresh and new, very different from other stories. I like his mundane stories and his stories that are totally out there, but the ones I like the best that juxtapose both. The most interesting stories in this collection start out grounded in the mundane, but suddenly take a left turn where there isn't one to take and walk off into the bizarre. The result is a truly fascinating story.
So far, my favorite of Murakami's short fiction collections. Highlights include the title story, "The Second Bakery Attack", and "The Dancing Dwarf". Some tales are fantasies of the absurd while others are existential slices of life. Murakami never fails to amaze me and this book is no exception. Four and a half stars.
Rating it according to Goodreads' system, so two stars mean "it was okay".

I don't understand the Murakami love, two or three of the stories were good, the others I didn't care for, I always zone out whenever his characters start talking about food or popular western music, please give it a rest.
Ahmad Sharabiani
قضیه غیب شدن فیل و دیگر داستان ها : هدیه نوروزی نبشت
این مجموعه شامل داستانهایی از: هاروکی موراکامی، اتگار کرت، ایزابل آلنده، استیون کینگ، سلمان رشدی، فرانتس کافکا، وودی آلن، جومپا لاهیری، ایزاک باشویز سینگر و نادین گوردیمر است، با ترجمه عزیز حکیمی
Anuja Papriwal
Mr. Murakami's short story telling is probably as good as his novel writing (if I can't be ignorantly assuming to declare the former better). There is always a point while reading him, where I am unsure of what is going on and whether it makes any sense to continue reading. Still, I can never keep him off for a long time. I always come back. Like I would go to the mountains. There is a strange sense of association. In this respect, these short stories are the same. Just that they are probably ev ...more
pierlapo  quimby
Se quando esci dal lavoro sei solito fermarti per strada a bere qualcosa e poi, rientrato in casa, ti scoli un paio di drink e per cena una mezza dozzina di birre, ascoltando Schubert e Gillespie o anche un vecchio album degli Stones, se viene a trovarti gente assurda con aspetto o abitudini sgradevoli che ti confessa episodi inverosimili della propria vita che inquieterebbero chiunque o lo getterebbero in uno stato di profonda disperazione e tu invece reagisci con un'alzata di spalle, come se a ...more
after devouring his book of short stories, i can safely say that murakami is now one of my all-time favorite writers. his engaging voice immediately drew me in from the very first sentence: "i'm in the kitchen cooking spaghetti when the woman calls." interestingly, spaghetti makes a couple more appearances throughout the various short stories in this book, as does the name "noboru watanabe" (alternatively a cat, a future brother-in-law, and an old elephant caretaker), and careers, such as advert ...more
- Fave stories: "The Kangaroo Communique", "On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning", "Sleep", "Barn Burning" (fave), "The Dancing Dwarf", "The Silence", "The Elephant Vanishes"

- Least fave: "The Wind-up Bird and Tuesday's Women", "The Little Green Monster", "TV People", "A Slow Boat to China"

- I liked that certain elements repeated throughout stories: Noburu Wantanabe, classical music, sandwiches for breakfast, elephants, working somewhere that sells appliances

- Why was ever
The way in some of his stories that he builds such a "normal" world - everyday suburban life that is so utterly "abnormal" is astonishing and far more creepy than out and out brutality and violence. Like those bad dreams in which nothing much is actually bad, but the whole of reality just seems "wrong" - smells wrong, tastes wrong and sounds wrong, as though it has had the reality sucked out of it - which of course it has, since it is a dream. Duh! Oddly, I have given this book a maximum rating, ...more
I loved "Sleep". Loved! The abrupt Soprano's-esque ending was infuriating and exhilarating. Packed with symbolism and Murakami's signature atmospheric style, it was a beautiful statement about women's oppression.

Other favorites were "Barn Burning", "Family Affair" and "The Dancing Dwarf". Obviously the title story "The Elephant Vanishes" was another one that captivated me with it's subtle (well, not so subtle) political undertones.

The rest of the stories seemed like fillers and didn't leave any
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Goodreads Librari...: Alternate Cover edition for The Elephant Vanishes 3 11 Feb 16, 2014 07:27AM  
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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...
Norwegian Wood Kafka on the Shore The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle 1Q84 (1Q84, #1-3) Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

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“There are some things about myself I can’t explain to anyone. There are some things I don’t understand at all. I can’t tell what I think about things or what I’m after. I don’t know what my strengths are or what I’m supposed to do about them. But if I start thinking about these things in too much detail the whole thing gets scary. And if I get scared I can only think about myself. I become really self-centered, and without meaning to, I hurt people. So I’m not such a wonderful human being.” 145 likes
“I realize now that the reality of things is not something you convey to people but something you make.” 74 likes
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