Review: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World – Haruki Murakami

hbwateotwThis might be an unpopular opinion but this book didn’t grip me from the offset. In fact, I really debated putting this down within the first 100 pages because it was just so… bland. And also, it really riled me up. I won’t lie.

Genuinely, my inner feminist was screaming reading this book. Within the first chapter we have an entire paragraph dedicated to justifying why a ‘chubby’ woman is still attractive. Seriously. The only identifying feature he gave this woman was ‘chubby’. Whenever this girl is mentioned, her weight is mentioned, her size is mentioned and that made me angry. Oh and also, there was half a chapter about how she makes really good sandwiches! It made me even angrier when in chapter 7 another female character is introduced and her defining feature is ‘slim’. Yep. Maybe I was a little intolerant of it but this pissed me off to no end to the point I wanted to throw the book across the room in spite of the fact that I was just starting to enjoy it. I know it was written in 1985 and ‘times were different’ but seriously, I’m not down with this objectification of women and outright misogyny!

But the thing is, Haruki Murakami just has a gift when it comes to creating an atmosphere, it’s something I really appreciate in an author and this ‘atmosphere’ thing features heavily in a lot of books that I enjoy. When reading some of this I felt like it could do with being a black and white adaptation with a heavy voiceover, it was foggy and mysterious and yes… I do really love that in a book. All the issues I have aside, I can’t help but compulsively read a Murakami book.

Forgetting the fact that women can evidently only be identified by their body mass, this was okay. After I got in to it around the 100 page mark I really enjoyed the story. Some of it was surplus to requirements, shall we say but the main crux of it was really engaging. It’s essentially two stories that eventually weave together, but as with all Murakami it is really best to go in blind and just let the story take you! To be fair to this book, it is an amazing story, it was a masterful novel but I just can’t get over how it made me feel on the angst front. Murakami may be a master with atmosphere but he is awful at writing women and for that reason I didn’t enjoy this to it’s 3/5 from me

One thought on “Review: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World – Haruki Murakami

  1. Sounds like Murakami’s misogyny was even higher than usual in this book! I adore his writing, but there’s no denying that his depictions of women in the books of his that I have read have always been dubious. Also his sexism so comes out in his male characters who are nondescript but who beautiful women are head-over-heels sexually attracted to them. I mean, I love his writing, but boy his sexism is sometimes a li’l too much!
    I think I’d have had the same urge to throw this book across the room if I had to read women being solely described by their weight!

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