Haruki Murakami and A Loneliness on “Men Without Women”

Haruki Murakami is an author of many books. In this note, Ronald Susilo tells us about Murakami’s short story anthology “Men Without Women”. There is seven stories in that book, and Ronald pointed his write on how Murakami describe loneliness. Enjoy!

haruki murakami and a loneliness on men without women
Haruki Murakami: Men Without Women

Haruki Murakami and A Loneliness on Men Without Women

By: M. Ronald Susilo

Do you know Murakami? If you don’t, I’ll tell you about him for detail. Haruki Murakami is a Japanese, born in Kyoto, January 12, 1949. Now he is 68 years. He is a writer of fiction and nonfiction books. All of his books are being translated into more than 50 languages; very popular in and out his native country. Numerous award was given to him in Japan and internationally. To say some: World Fantasy Award, Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, Franz Kafka Prize, and Jerusalem Prize.

To add some acclaims for this author, I copied from back cover of his book “Hear The Wind Sing”:

  1. “One of the most influential novelists of his generation” (Guardian). 
  2. “Readers in every literary nation are crazy for Haruki Murakami” (The Times).

Let me start to share my opinion about his book called “Men Without Women”. This book originally published in Japan in 2014, translated and published into English in 2017. Consist of 7 short stories that can make me or others readers drift thus don’t know what happened and what is the idea to conclude this seven amazing stories.

Human being is created by “someone” as a social creature. So, every men and women must have relation with others. But, how much numbers of relationship must have to be called social creature?

If I only have one friend in real life and five thousand friends in social media is that enough? Is social aspect of human being is determined by numbers of friends only and never look for how mood, feeling, and private situation tells us?

The first story in this book is Drive My Car. The actor has lost his wife for about 10 years because of cervices cancer. Alone for ten years is something to say. But, the very interesting part in this story is “sixth sense” on the actor’s mind. Because of that sixth sense he knows that his wife has have sex with the other man for fourth time when she is healthy. The men who have affair with are the friends of the actor.

Guys, does having a sixth sense in our life and in our mind is something good or worst? While read and when finished this story, I still think about this “sixth sense”. The actor always suffered of being betrayal by his wife.

Now days talk about sixth sense is like talk about ancient topic. How you solve this situation–if you have a sixth sense? You never know exactly about that situation. Is there a fact or only a suspecting someone do something wrong?

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And the worst thing that, the actor in this story doesn’t make is he never asks whether his wife do like what the sixth sense talks to him. After the death of his wife he gets only regret why that question never be uttered. In my opinion sixth sense is like feeling in our heart, not a logical thinking.

In school we always taught to say something according to logical thinkingway because after we graduate from school we still use that way in the work field, social life and family. That is why like I have said above that talk about sixth sense is like talk about ancient topic, unrealistic topic and not according to the logical thinking way. If you still use it in real life–even in the family life, the worst thing will happen: unhappy life.

But, this situation (sixth sense way) are very usually happened can not be calculated or predicted.  I still remember when one of our leader be asked by journalist why he wants to be governor or regent. “I want to be a governor because last night I dream that lot of people came to me and one of them as a courier says that they will support me to be a governor”.

Another example that I want to share with you is like this. In the small village near my home recently there was a tragedy. Lot of people came to the one house and they shout and yell to the owner of the house to came out. If the owner didn’t, they would fire the house.

Read This: Writers’ Inspirational Quotes (Indonesian Article)

The case was started from the oldest man in that village who says that the man in that house was a shaman or soothsayer and because of him one family who lives beside that house can not have a baby. Every time the wife gets pregnant, after two months she always has a miscarriage. That is real story in real life. What a ridiculous life. Thanks Haruki for bringing this sixth sense topic in your story.

Loneliness in this story is not only because of woman (dead of wife) but having a sixth sense is part of loneliness. With sixth sense, only you can have such thing in your mind. Every body can not think and say like what you have think. If I have a choice, I choose not have sixth sense. Is the sixth sense real?

To have a different dialect or unique idialect is one of part of being loneliness. This scene can be found in the second story in this collection: Yesterday.

One of the stories that make me always remember when I think about Haruki is “An independent Organ”. The story is about success plastic surgeon doctor, age 52 years old. This doctor has work for 30 years and has a lot of patients that come to his beauty clinic. Popularity and money are with him but, the doctor commit to not married or have a children, and for 30 years the doctor walk out with lot of women. All of these women are married and have children. Very unique relationship, but in Haruki’s hand everything is possible.

In the end of this story, the doctor death because of “lovesick” to one of the women. Nice ending from Haruki.

Complete stories in Men Without Women:

  1. Drive My Car
  2. Yesterday
  3. An Independent Organ
  4. Scheherazade
  5. Kino
  6. Samsa in Love
  7. Men Without Women


Ronald Susilo
Lion Air: Kupang – Surabaya. 19.00 Wita. 18 Agustus 2017

Ronald Susilo, lives in Ruteng Flores, a doctor who loves books as much as he loves his patients, a red cross activist, founder of Petra Book Club Ruteng, a great dad of Michael.

2 komentar untuk “Haruki Murakami and A Loneliness on “Men Without Women””

  1. Talking about sixth sense, there are two words come to my mind: 'ata mbeko'. Nowadays, who needs ata mbeko to solve their problem? Some people needs(just because they don't have self confidence!).. And men without women… the world goes to chaos.. the world goes to crazy.. I'd like to read Murakami's books but they're written in English, unfortunately.. Tabe..

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