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The Elephant Vanishes


Zō no shōmetsu

Annthology of 17 short stories, complied by Gary Fisketjon

Translated by Alfred Birnbaum and Jay Rubin

UK Edition:
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Vintage (8 Feb 2001)
ISBN-10: 0099448750

US Edition:
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Vintage (June 28, 1994)
ISBN-10: 0679750533

"“There are lots of things we never understand, no matter how many years we put on, no matter how much experience we accumulate.” A Window


The Wind-Up Bird and Tuesday's Women
The Second Bakery Attack
The Kangaroo Communique
On Seeing The 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning
The Fall Of The Roman Empire, The 1881 Indian Uprising, Hitler's Invasion Of Poland, And The Realm Of Raging Winds
Barn BuildingThe Little Green Monster
Family Affair
A Window
TV People
A Slow Boat To China
The Dancing Dwarf
The Last Lawn Of The Afternoon
The Silence
The Elephant Vanishes

excerpt available from the Random House site (from "The Wind-up Bird And Tuesday's Women")


A seamless melding of Japanese cultural nuances with universal themes--in a virtuoso story collection from rising literary star Murakami (A Wild Sheep Chase, 1989; Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, 1991). These 15 pieces, some of which have appeared in The New Yorker and Playboy, are narrated by different characters who nonetheless share similar sensibilities and attitudes. At home within their own urban culture, they happily pick and choose from Western cultural artifacts as varied as Mozart tapes, spaghetti dinners, and Ralph Lauren polo shirts in a terrain not so much surreal as subtly out of kilter, and haunted by the big questions of death, courage, and love. In the title story, the narrator--who does p.r. for a kitchen-appliance maker and who feels that ``things around [him] have lost their balance,'' that a ``pragmatic approach'' helps avoid complicated problems--is troubled by the inexplicable disappearance of a local elephant and his keeper. 

In another  notable story, ``Sleep,'' a young mother, unable to sleep, begins to question not only her marriage and her affection for her child, but death itself, which may mean ``being eternally awake and staring into darkness.'' Stories like ``TV People,'' in which a man's apartment is taken over by TV characters who ``look as if they were reduced by photocopy, everything mechanically calibrated''; ``Barn Burning,'' in which a man confesses to burning barns (it helps him keep his sense of moral balance); and ``The Second Bakery Attack,'' in which a young married couple rob a McDonald's of 30 Big Macs in order to exorcise the sense of a ``weird presence'' in their lives--all exemplify Murakami's sense of the fragility of the ordinary world. Remarkable evocations of a postmodernist world, superficially indifferent but transformed by Murakami's talent into a place suffused with a yearning for meaning.


reviews / articles

1993 Knopf cover design details from designer Chip Kidd

Tokyo Prose by Jean-Christophe Castelli Harper's Bazaar, March 1993

Nice one minute video review of The Elephant Vanishes on youtube

From Japan, Big Macs and Marlboros in Stories - New York Times review by Herbert Mitgang

As Japanese as Burt Bacharach - New York Times reviw by David Leavitt

Cannon of 108 Books - review by Ad Blankestijn

The Dancing Dwarf (part)

British Arts Council Book of the Month by Susan Tranter

A Short Guide to Murakami's Short Fiction by Matthew Tiffany

Barnes and Nobel review

Rascal's review in imho-reviews

My Favorite Short Stories: Haruki Murakami - “TV People” SansPoint review by Richard Anderson

The review

The Elephant Vanishes Theatre Production reviews:

The Production Companies: complicite's  page

Guardian review by Michael Billington

Newsnight Review discussed the stage adaptation of Japanese writer Haruki Murakami 's The Elephant Vanishes.

British Theatre Guide by Philip Fisher

Online Review London review by Francine Brody

The wikipedia page on the novel page for the novel