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The Elephant Vanishes

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  42,415 ratings  ·  2,780 reviews
Alternate cover edition of ISBN 9780679750536

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 newly
Paperback, 327 pages
Published June 28th 1994 by Vintage (first published March 1993)
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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 Tarnatin…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)
Gabriela Turkot Japanese writers don't have the same approach to literature as Western writers. The logic of the narrative don't correspond to our known arcs beginnin…moreJapanese writers don't have the same approach to literature as Western writers. The logic of the narrative don't correspond to our known arcs beginning-middle-ending, because of the differences between our world views. Time is not linear in their perspectives as it is in ours, as in the idea of past-present-future as we know it is from our Judaic-Christian society. I recommend the reading of The Japanese Concept of Space and Time by Kiyoshi Matsumoto for those who have interest in learning more about the Japanese world view. (less)

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JV (semi-hiatus)
Sep 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to JV (semi-hiatus) by: Stephanie Lee
A mental exploration of the subconscious mind with spurts of outlandish concepts and dreamlike surrealism.

Reading Murakami's short stories felt like having a box of chocolates in front of you, but you'll never know what you're going to get. And yep, there's unabashed sex here too. If you prefer your stories to be logical and realistic, then you need to veer away from this, but if you appreciate something bizarre with a lot of allegorical representation, by all means, sink your teeth into it and
Nov 06, 2012 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
Feb 22, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, japan
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
Fiona McCandless
Nov 02, 2008 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
Oct 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
REVIEW (MARCH 2021): This is my third time reading this short story collection and I still love it a lot but since I had to reread it for a paper that I'm writing it wasn't the most fun reading experience ... took me a solid six days of reading and rereading every single story and writing down twelve pages of quotes and thoughts ... and the paper still isn't finished yet lmao. So, I still love it a lot but this time around it was also hella exhausting to read.

REVIEW (JANUARY 2020): This is my n
Dec 24, 2014 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
Jun 24, 2008 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
Nov 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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: ***
Edward Lorn
Nov 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
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 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2-stars, read-in-2017
There were some good stories, but overall I don't think Murakami is someone I would go to for short stories. He is terrible at conclusions for them, and only 1 or 2 stories left me wanting more. He is very very hit or miss with me and I'm finding a lot of misses with him lately. He has a very distinct style that shines through every novel he writes, but weirdly, I only like it sometimes. ...more
Andrew Smith
Murakami is a writer who can suck me into a story like no other, his unparalleled imagination and the way he is able to weave banal everyday actions and straightforward and almost dull characters into tales involving the totally surreal can prove to be something approaching hypnotic. The books I’ve enjoyed the most have been his longest stories: The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, Kafka on the Shore and 1Q84. But much as l love his bigger pieces, his short fiction can sometimes pass me by. I’ve read qui ...more
Mar 24, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
May 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
"One impossible day, of an impossible month, of an impossible year."

"All I wanted was to get back to my book."

"In my own way, I'd like to believe I've got my own morals."

A collection from the writer which I found quite good with the kind of writing that would hook the reader until the last page. A good collection of honest writing, genuine characters, relatable stories and lines I feel I would never get tired of reading a book by the author.


1. The Wind-up Bird and Tuesday's Women
3 🌟
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 on
Jun 12, 2007 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
Farah Firdaus
The Elephant Vanishes (TEV) is a compilation of 17 short stories which largely features loneliness, isolation and the act of breaking off the chains of conformity to modern Japanese highly expectant culture. Out of 17 stories here, 13 stories were a hit and the rest were okayish/pleasant enough.

TOP 5 favourites in The Elephant Vanishes:

1. Sleep

"This is my seventeenth straight day without a sleep."

God, I really really really loved Sleep. It's raw, honest and invigoratingly refreshing. It tells a
Mar 19, 2019 rated it liked it
I came to this (my first Murakami) after viewing the Korean film ('Burning') adapted (VERY loosely) from it, because: A. I didn't quite 'get' the film and B. I wanted to see how a 13 page story could possibly be made into a 148 minute (LONG!!!!) movie. Neither were satisfactorily answered by my reading - the story still remains very ambiguous and open to myriad interpretations, but reading other's reviews on here did give me some direction. ...more
Emmy Hermina Nathasia
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Weird. No point in trying to understand why of a story. Just read and go with it.
A. Dawes
Aug 11, 2016 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
Jun 27, 2007 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
Matthew Ted
125th book of 2020.

There's a level of symmetry that the first Murakami I read was his short story collection Men Without Women, and now I am reading another, with nearly all of his novels finished. After reading that first collection I began my journey, starting with his first novel, Hear the Wind Sing, to read everything he wrote in order of publication. I still have two collections left after this, so maybe I can read those when all the novels are finished.

The stories in this collection were:
Fidan Lurin
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This collection of 17 short stories are all geniusly written. They captivated me instantly from the TV guys who consistently make a haunting appearance in ‘TV People’ to the housewife who no longer needs shut eye in ‘Sleep’, with ‘The Elephant Vanishes’ concluding the chain of whimsical happenings ever-so vividly illustrated. I’ve always felt a bit daunted going into short stories because reading them requires a certain type of reader. One who is able to remain completely absorbed by the story, ...more

I just don’t care for short stories... I only truly enjoyed maybe 3 of these? The others were just meh. I’m sure someone who enjoys story collections could enjoy this though!
John Hatley
May 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For some reason it seems like I like Haruki Murakami more after everything I read by him. This short-story collection represents a unique blend of seriousness, melancholy, humour and the surreal — sometimes in one and the same story. He is a brilliant author and this is great collection.
Nikita (thebookelf_)
I really enjoyed this one. A couple of short stories were very impressive. Would've loved to read more.
Full review coming soon!
James Curcio
Aug 04, 2011 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
Noshin Syara
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Haruki Murakami has always his own kinda flavor !
Short stories, melancholic stories, mostly weird stories .
I feel so submerged into his characters that sometimes its hard to remember that I'm not them. I don't listen to jazz in the morning with a can of bear, waking up next my partner & feel so lifeless !
But you know, then I'm here in the reality. Which is even weirder but in a less interesting way :(
The wind-up bird and Tuesday's women - 4/5 stars
The second bakery attack - 4/5 stars
The kangaroo communique - 3/5 stars
On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful April morning - 5/5 stars
Sleep - 4.5/5 stars
The fall of the Roman Empire, the 1881 Indian uprising, Hitler's invasion of Poland, and the realm of raging winds - 4/5 stars
Lederhosen - 4/5 stars
Barn Burning - 4/5 stars
The little green monster - 2.5/5 stars
Family affair - 3/5 stars
A window - 3/5 stars
TV people - 3.5/5 stars
A slow boat
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
A well-told eerie short story by Murakami. I'm impressed with how he has succeeded in making the reader speculate on the mysterious elements of the story, making good use of the idiom "the devil is in the details".

(view spoiler)
May 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
This one was a mixed bag. Some of the stories were absolutely brilliant and others missed the mark.

Only one more short story collection and two more novels then I've read everything of Murakami's that's been published in English. What a journey it's been.
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Murakami Haruki (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

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