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The Elephant Vanishes

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  25,108 Ratings  ·  1,418 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 1985)
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Tom Brucia When one's life is lacking in any serious purpose (as many our lives are) why not be frivolous? Purposeless lives are just as real as those driven…moreWhen one's life is lacking in any serious purpose (as many our lives are) why not be frivolous? Purposeless lives are just as real as those driven along to invisible ends. Murakami simply describes the jumble of people and of things that form our realities. That's enough.(less)
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Best Japanese Books
39th out of 493 books — 2,335 voters
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Best Haruki Murakami Books
11th out of 20 books — 648 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Apr 24, 2013 Forrest rated it liked it
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
Fiona McCandless
Nov 02, 2008 Fiona McCandless rated it it was amazing

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
Nov 06, 2012 Oriana rated it really liked it
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
Feb 10, 2016 Junta rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Edward Lorn
Dec 20, 2015 Edward Lorn rated it it was ok
Shelves: ebook
This is my third Haruki Murakami read and by far my least favorite. After Norwegian Wood and After Dark, I felt this author could do no wrong. Those two novels were vastly different from each other - one a simplistic-yet-moving coming-of-age story and the other a mindtrip into the streets and characters of nocturnal Japan - and I was hoping some of that mastery of story would show up in each one of these tales. I was sorely mistaken.

My rating is based solely on the fact that I only liked 7 out
Nov 27, 2015 Chris_P rated it really liked it
Shelves: haruki-murakami

The wind-up bird and Tuesday's women: ****
The second bakery attack: *****
The kangaroo communique: ***
On seeing the 100% perfect girl one April morning: *****
Sleep: *****
The fall of the roman empire, the 1881 Indian Uprising, Hitler's invasion of Poland, and the realm of raging winds: **
Lederhosen: ***
Barn burning: ****
The little green monster: ****
Family affair: ***
A window: ***
TV people: *****
A slow boat to China: ****
The dancing dwarf: ****
The last lawn of the afternoon: ***
Silence: ***
Kee Queen
Like the secretive, quiet fall of rain,
they steal into the gloom...

They say that surrealist author Haruki Murakami captures the 'common ache' of the 'contemporary heart and mind'. I thought this was a pretty spot-on description of some of his best short stories. I began reading Murakami in 2007, and he was a writer whose work and style resonated so strongly for me at that time where I'm confronted with the ambiguities of daily existence. He will always hold a special place in my heart as one
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
Nov 10, 2015 Miguel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Digo de minha justiça: o pó que se abate sobre as palavras, o bafio que assusta o nariz inquieto e curioso, o espavento das formigas que fogem do prenúncio da miséria.

Haruki Murakami acaba com o adormecimento, escancara a porta de supetão e relembra, como uma coluna de som, a música que sacode o corpo.

O leitor sai da bolsa marsupial, ensaia a florescência da primavera, que pula como uma criança, crescendo como os tales dos lírios que se roçam nos dedos dos pés que se assomam das sandálias dos in
Jun 27, 2007 Joe rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 20, 2007 E.H. rated it liked it  ·  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
Franco  Santos
The Wind-Up Bird and Tuesday's Women: Entretenido, linda prosa. (3/5)

The Second Bakery Attack: Me gustó mucho. Atrapante desde el comienzo y con una trama divertida. (3.5/5)

The Kangaroo Communiqué: Relato ligero, sin nada de especial. (2.5/5)

On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning: Hermoso cuento. Muy corto pero inolvidable. Una pequeña joya. Es el mejor del libro, sin dudas. (4.5/5)

Sleep: Buena historia. Final raro. (3/5)

The Fall of the Roman Empire, the 1881 Indian Uprising
A. Dawes
Aug 20, 2016 A. Dawes rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
Murakami here delivers a highly accessible and quirky collection of stories. Murakami's conversational narrative voice throughout provides for an intimate atmosphere with readers. As usual, I'll rate the stories individually below. Despite a couple of hiccups, I'd recommend the work.

3.5* The Wind-up Bird and Tuesday's Women. A quirky urban story.

4* The Second Bakery Attack. A couple make a second bakery attack on MacDonald's. Murakami at his offbeat best.

4* The Kangaroo Communique. An experimen
James Curcio
Aug 12, 2013 James Curcio rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 09, 2016 Salymar rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 26, 2008 Amari rated it it was amazing
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
Andrea Tomé
Mar 29, 2016 Andrea Tomé rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Normalmente no suelo tener muchos problemas a la hora de puntuar una colección de relatos, pero está en particular fue... Rara (y estamos hablando de Murakami, así que ya os imagináis cómo de raro).
Ha habido relatos que han sido magistrales (El primero, el tercero y el último sobre todo), otros sencillamente buenos (el penúltimo y el segundo) y otros un pelín mediocres/demasiado extraños para ser clasificados (el de los chinos no tenía demasiado propósito, y el de los hombres de la tele y
Apr 15, 2016 Nafiza rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own, 2016
Some of the stories are unsettling, some are sly, and yet others offer an intensely introspective look at the world we live in. I have been reading Murakami for a long time and I can say with what little authority I have that this may be his finest work yet. I don't know where I read this but he is on record as saying that he finds short stories more fun to write than novels. His style is meticulous with a keen eye for details which can sometimes translate as being tedious and repetitive in nove ...more
Ben Loory
Jan 14, 2016 Ben Loory rated it really liked it
"Sleep" is one of the best stories I've ever read. I LOVE IT. I also love "Barn Burning" and "The Wind-Up Bird and Tuesday's Women" (though neither quite reach the height and final impact of "Sleep"). There are others I like a lot ("TV People" and "Last Lawn of the Afternoon" (which could be a Ron Carlson story)) and then some that I enjoyed but didn't seem to add up to a whole lot and then a very few I actively disliked ("The Dancing Dwarf" and "The Little Green Monster"-- yick). In general: so ...more
No sé qué más cabe decir de Murakami a estas alturas. No es El elefante desaparece su mejor colección de relatos y puede que no haya envejecido todo lo bien que uno pudiera esperar. Sin embargo, por más que se regodee en los mismos temas y esquemas, sigo encontrando en la narrativa de Murakami una autenticidad y personalidad inconfundibles. Vivimos en un mundo sumido constantemente en un estado de asombro y perplejidad, un mundo que en su cara menos amable produce alienación, desconcierto. Y a d ...more
Samuel Mustri
Feb 20, 2013 Samuel Mustri rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 09, 2016 David rated it really liked it
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.
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.
Nov 22, 2009 Candiss rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories, japan
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
May 04, 2011 Louize rated it liked it
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
Jan 14, 2013 Michael rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 19, 2008 David rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2008
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
Terri Jacobson
Feb 03, 2015 Terri Jacobson rated it really liked it
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
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
Jun 12, 2016 Gerlie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book that needs to be read slowly... Murakami's quiet brilliance shines through when you, as a reader, demand nothing of him, and allow yourself to see the world through his eyes. Favorites: Sleep, The Silence
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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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“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.” 171 likes
“I realize now that the reality of things is not something you convey to people but something you make.” 80 likes
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