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Publisher's Summary

“Some novelists hold a mirror up to the world and some, like Haruki Murakami, use the mirror as a portal to a universe hidden beyond it.” (The Wall Street Journal)

A mind-bending new collection of short stories from the internationally acclaimed Haruki Murakami.

The eight stories in this new book are all told in the first person by a classic Murakami narrator. From memories of youth, meditations on music, and an ardent love of baseball, to dreamlike scenarios and invented jazz albums, together these stories challenge the boundaries between our minds and the exterior world. Occasionally, a narrator may or may not be Murakami himself. Is it memoir or fiction? The listener decides. 

Philosophical and mysterious, the stories in First Person Singular all touch beautifully on love and solitude, childhood and memory...all with a signature Murakami twist.

©2021 Haruki Murakami (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

 “All fiction is magic. That’s the thought that occurred to me often as I read First Person Singular, the brilliant new book of stories by Haruki Murakami.... Whatever you want to call Murakami’s work — magic realism, supernatural realism — he writes like a mystery tramp, exposing his global readership to the essential and cosmic (yes, cosmic!) questions that only art can provoke: What does it mean to carry the baggage of identity? Who is this inside my head in relation to the external, so-called real world? Is the person I was years ago the person I am now? Can a name be stolen by a monkey?.... [Murakami allows] his own voice to enter the narratives, creating a confessional tone that reminded me of Alice Munro’s late work.... Describing how these stories succeed is like trying to describe exactly why, more than 50 years later, a Beatles song still sounds fresh.” (David Means, The New York Times Book Review)

First Person Singular marks a blazing and brilliant return to form.... Here we have a taut and tight, suspenseful and spellbinding, witty and wonderful group of eight stories.... All are told in the first person, most by narrators looking back from the vantage point of middle age on youthful experiences, obsessions, or encounters. And there isn’t a weak one in the bunch. The stories echo with Murakami’s preoccupations. Nostalgia and longing for the charged, evocative moments of young adulthood. Memory’s power and fragility; how identity forms...the at once intransigent and fragile nature of the “self.” Guilt, shame, and regret for mistakes made.... Music’s power to make indelible impressions.... The themes become a kind of meter against which all the stories make their particular, chiming rhythms.... This mesmerizing collection would make a superb introduction to Murakami for anyone who hasn’t yet fallen under his spell; his legion of devoted fans will gobble it up and beg for more.” (Priscilla Gilman, The Boston Globe)

“Haruki Murakami is a master of the mesmerizing head-scratcher. His fiction, whether long or short, highlights life's essential strangeness and unfathomability.... The eight stories in First Person Singular [...] are classic Murakami, filled with multiple recurrent obsessions — jazz, classical music, Beatles, baseball, and memories of perplexing young love.... Murakami's plainspoken short stories, like his more complex novels, raise existential questions about perception, memory, and the meaning of it all — though he's the opposite of heavy-handed, and rarely proposes answers.... What is it all about, his frequently awestruck and befuddled characters wonder repeatedly — and contagiously.... [A] winning collection.” (Heller McAlpin, NPR)

What listeners say about First Person Singular

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  • Overall
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A Murakami novel ruined by the wrong narrator

Love all Murakami novels and short stories but this narrator with a forced heavy Japanese accent ruined this book for me. Sometimes accents work in story telling but this was an unnecessary and distracting one that took over the story for no obvious reason. I hope they have one of the previous narrators redo this audiobook.

4 people found this helpful

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Okay short stories

There is no need for a Japanese reader. I would prefer the usual American voice actor who read other books from Haruki Murakami.

4 people found this helpful

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Murakami Rocks

The stories are marvelous, the production values are excellent, but the problem here is Kotaro Watanabe. He is simply not up to the task of narrating this book. His reading is flat and monotone. There is no variety in his delivery. His delivery was listening to a student reading a story in high school.

3 people found this helpful

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Big disappointment for this Murakami lover

First of all, the narrator drove me crazy because he speaks so slow... I had to speed up the narration.
The stories are mostly BORING, a combination of self absorbed rambling mixed with memories and self reflection of what could of, should of ....
Lots of descriptions of women being ugly, attractive, or good looking.
I’m an avid Murakami lover... love his fiction mostly. The book about running wasn’t very interesting to me, and sadly this much anticipated book falls in the same category for me. It’s not very long... if you choose to listen , know it will be over shortly.

3 people found this helpful

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Super Introspective and Relatable Tales

I’ve gotta get this off my chest. I particularly loved the opening story, Cream. Like so many of us in our youth, here is a young man in a turning point in his life that could make or break his future but he is completely unaware because he is so self absorbed and not taking anything in his life seriously. A handful of characters present their arguments to him, sort of wake up calls, trying to give the young man some direction, some clue on life, as he seemingly has no passion, no direction, or clarity of future, and we watch him (in retrospect) grapple with each lesson. Does he reach understanding?
I’ve caught a few critiques on this particular story published in several magazines before I had a chance to listen to it myself. I’m struck by how upset the critics are that they don’t understand this story. They pride themselves in being self-proclaimed fanatics of the author, but this story has thrown so many of them a curve ball that it’s almost comical how they gripe about it. How can you miss the point? The narrator appropriately clues you in at the climax, and if that isn’t enough he spells it all out in the end. Enjoy it! It sets the tone for the rest of the book perfectly, which is honest and revealing.

2 people found this helpful

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There Are No Ordinary Moments--Dan Millman

First Person Singular Stories by Haruki Murakami had me fooled for a bit. The book starts out as a disjointed collection of musings - not quite stories and not quote poems. As a Murakami fan, I even started to panic a bit...could it be that one of his books is simply...ordinary? But then, the complexity and the strangeness emerged and I became wrapped up in the work. Fans of Murakami Audible Audio editions are used to specific performers doing the narration. This book is performed by Kotaro Watanabe. At first, I wondered if it was the performance or the writing or perhaps the combination that seemed too ordinary. Like the book itself, Watanabe's performance became stronger and much more in alignment with my expectations. This is a deceptively simple collection that eventually goes THERE just like most of Murakami's writing. However, just when everything picks up the most interesting kind of steam, the book ends. So, I would recommend this to fans and readers who are already familiar with Murakami. This is not the book for readers who are new to the author to start their journey through his work.

1 person found this helpful

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Delightful

I am a huge Murakami fan, and this book did not dissapointed me at all. Each story has such sensitivity, it took me to a journey along the different experiences and I could feel the trip back memory lane. it's just crude and straightforward at times, while deeply poetic and reflective as well. A masterpiece!

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Real and surreal

Move reading murakami,. Very personal style. Loves playing with memories and their relationship to unreality. Each is a gem with a bunch of little surprises. Narrator is patient and understands how to tell these stories. Frnsaltion vey natural

1 person found this helpful

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leaving heavy smog after


These stories are leaving so much hanging in the air. It feels like looking through a tiny keyhole at someone's life and then abruptly withdrawing. I didn't warm up to any story at all.

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It was fine

I like his books but this was meh. I wanted more stuff to happen in the stories