Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Elephant Vanishes” as Want to Read:
The Elephant Vanishes
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Elephant Vanishes

by
3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  18,215 ratings  ·  991 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
Paperback, 336 pages
Published June 28th 1994 by Vintage (first published 1991)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Elephant Vanishes, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Elephant Vanishes

Norwegian Wood by Haruki MurakamiThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki MurakamiKafka on the Shore by Haruki MurakamiBattle Royale by Koushun TakamiHard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
Best Japanese Books
32nd out of 390 books — 1,784 voters
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki MurakamiNorwegian Wood by Haruki MurakamiThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami1Q84 by Haruki MurakamiHard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
Best Haruki Murakami Books
11th out of 17 books — 482 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Forrest
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...more
oriana
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
apathetic

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...more
E.H.
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...more
Joe
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
Amari
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
Salymar
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
Louize
May 04, 2011 Louize rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
...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...more
Michael
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...more
Mu Sam
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...more
David
Jan 11, 2014 David rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
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.
Marvin
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.
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
Candiss
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...more
John
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
Gavin
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...more
David
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
Emily
- 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...more
Yanni
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
Mary
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...more
David
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.
Sahidzan
Cerpen-cerpen Murakami. Macam-macam perasaan menyelinap masa baca buku ni. De-javu, pemerkosaan minda, lapar sampai rasa nak merompak McD, insomnia, romantis, erotis,perang, damai etc etc.. Sehinggakan helaian kertasnya hampir renyuk diselak berulang kali.

Maria João Fernandes
"O que poderiam duas pessoas ficar a saber uma acerca da outra em dez minutos?"

Haruki Murakami dispõe algumas situações comuns do quotidiano, vividas por personalidades distintas e acompanhadas por um toque intenso de surrealismo. Cada um dos contos foca-se numa questão existencial que, tal como a personagem que aflige, se revela perturbadora.

"Impossível dizer de onde vem ou para onde vai."

As coisas aparecem e desaparecem sem aviso e a realidade apresenta vários níveis alternativos, que se mist...more
Path Kittinat
หนังสือรวมเรื่องสั้นมองเฮียมุราคามิ เล่มแรกที่มีการตีพิมพ์เป็นภาษาอังกฤษนี้ ต่างจากเรื่องสั้นของลุงแกในแบบภาษาไทย เพราะฉบับไทยนั้นจะใช้ต้นฉบับตามญี่ปุ่นเลย ซึ่งทำให้เกิดความแต่งต่างระหว่างของทั้งสอบแบบ โดยบ้างเรื่องในฉบับไทยไม่มีในฉบับภาษาอังกฤษ และบางเรื่องในฉบับอังกฤษ ก็ไม่มีในฉบับภาษาไทยเหมือนกัน

ผมไม่รู้ว่าเรื่องที่ถูกเลือกให้มาลงใน The Elephant Vanishes นี้มีเหตุผลกลใดหรือป่าว และเฮียมูแกเลือกเองรึป่าว เพราะผมรุ้สึกว่าหลายๆเรื่องในเล่มนี้ เหมือนเป็นโลกในมิติที่ต่างๆกัน(Parallel world) เพราะ...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
Lisa L
I read the story "sleep" in this collection recently and have to ramble about it a little.

People seem keen to relate to “sleep”. Yes, I do think the story has to do with the suppression of her individual self, being bored of routine passive domestic life, but this reaction is unconscious or subconscious, at least in the beginning. She never expressed a strong repressed desire to “do”/achieve anything outside her daily life as a mother, cook, and house keeper. She never expressed content towards...more
Emily
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
Andrew
This is my first stab at Murakami's shorter-length work. I loved the four novels of his I'd read before (Kafka on the Shore, Hard-Boiled Wonderland, The Wind-Up Bird Chroncile and Norwegian Wood) even though they're fairly disparate. A lot of Murakami fans hate Norwegian Wood.

There are two kinds of stories in this book. There are the realistic (or, rather, realistic enough-- no unicorns or malevolent spirits) stories about mindless consumer culture and gritty reality. And then there are the ones...more
Kyle Muntz
Less affecting than "Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman", but more whimsical and imaginative. As usual, I'd recommend Murakami's novels over his short fiction, but the standout here are just phenomenal, especially "The Second Bakery Attack"; the brief but poignant "A Window"; "A Family Affair", probably the most realistic story in the collection but one of the most affecting; and (maybe most notably) "The Dancing Dwarf", which is one of the best pieces of short fiction I've read. For the most part, th...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Alternate Cover edition for The Elephant Vanishes 3 11 Feb 16, 2014 07:27AM  
  • Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words
  • Seven Japanese Tales
  • The Diving Pool: Three Novellas
  • Palm-of-the-Hand Stories
  • And Then
  • Death in Midsummer and Other Stories
  • Sayonara, Gangsters
  • Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories
  • Asleep
  • The Briefcase
  • Blue Bamboo: Japanese Tales of Fantasy
  • The Paper Door and Other Stories by Shiga Naoya
  • Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness: Four Short Novels
  • The Box Man
3354
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: https://www.facebook.com/harukimuraka...

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
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

Share This Book

“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.” 121 likes
“I realize now that the reality of things is not something you convey to people but something you make.” 74 likes
More quotes…