I can’t quite decide whether or not I should recommend this small Vintage ‘mini’ as a suitable introduction to the work of Haruki Murakami. The stories in “Desire” are more or less typical of his style and – interestingly – they give each of his major into-English translators a run-out too. (Through experience, I’ve found I do have preferences over translators – though I could be just imagining that!)
As with almost any short-story, the challenge with these brief tales is that you inevitably miss the depth and patina Murakami brings to his full-length work. Many of his books narrate journeys of one kind of another: often fantastical / physical / geographical as well as emotional and spiritual. Such journeys are, for me, at the heart of Murakami, and while there are vignettes of such travelling in the five stories collected in “Desire” – such as in “Samsa in love” – they skim us across their surface rather than immerse us in them.
On balance, I think I would recommend starting with one of his full-length novels – but I would never not recommend reading him! So if all you have is limited time (or money!) then “Desire” might fit perfectly well.
Note: the stories in this ‘mini’ collection are curated from larger volumes of short stories: “The Elephant Vanishes”, “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman”, and “Men Without Women”.