Having read almost everything Haruki Murakami has written, I feel I’m entitled to say if I don’t feel one of his books has reached his usual standard – and I don’t think “First Person Singular” comes close. The stories feel insubstantial and vague, and they lack the precision, drive and mystery of the majority of his work. And except in one or two places, they wouldn’t make it even to the foot of Murakami’s ‘wackiness index’.
Disappointment then. One of the areas of this disappointment arises from the occasionally clumsy use of language and repetition – and here there’s a problem. Is that a fault of the author himself or of the translator? In most cases I’m inclined to blame the latter because in spots the translation feels ‘lazy’ – and also because I’m heavily biased in Murakami’s favour!
So if you’ve picked up “First Person Singular” as your first venture into Murakami’s world then please don’t think this is typical. Don’t give up on him! Try “Kafka on the Shore”, “The Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World”, “1Q84”, “A Wild Sheep Chase” etc.
And if “First Person Singular” isn’t the first of his books you’ve read, then hopefully I’m preaching to the already converted!