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  • Anubha Pant

Birthday Girl: A sneak peek into the World of Haruki Murakami


Birthday girl by Haruki Murakami

If you're an enthusiast of magical realism, you simply can't miss out on Haruki Murakami's novels.


Personally, I've been eager to dive into Murakami's world, but I've struggled with choosing the perfect starting point. I have encountered countless praises and discussions surrounding the works of the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. And during my quest to find the perfect Murakami book to start with, I found this cute little book on Amazon. Given its size, I promptly added it to my cart and made the purchase.


This short story felt like a thrilling sneak peek into Murakami's world. And as I turned the final page, the same question echoed in my mind, just like it does for every newcomer: "What did I just read?"


Book Summary


"Birthday Girl" by Haruki Murakami is a short story, that revolves around a young woman and how she spent her 20th birthday. The protagonist, who works as a waitress in a restaurant, finds herself unexpectedly granted a special request by her manager to serve dinner to the restaurant owner. Surprisingly, on her special day, she is granted a wish by the restaurant owner.


The story begins with a young woman who works at an Italian restaurant in Japan on her 20th birthday. Her shift was progressing normally until her manager suddenly fell sick and had to go to the hospital. Before leaving, he asked her to take over the task of serving dinner to the restaurant owner, a mysterious figure whom no one except the manager has ever seen. While serving the owner dinner, she confides that it's her 20th birthday that day. In response, the restaurant owner asks her to make a wish, promising to grant it later that night as a special gift for her birthday.


So What Did The Girl Wish For?


The story then takes us on a journey as the girl ponders her options and carefully considers what her heart truly desires. With each revelation, we uncover more about the girl's character and the complexities of her choices. Murakami skillfully delves into themes of longing, decision-making, and the choices that shape our lives.


In the end, we discover that the protagonist is recounting the story to the narrator, while the identity of the narrator remains unrevealed. The author leaves it to the reader's imagination to speculate about the narrator's identity. When asked by the narrator if her wish came true, her response is both "Yes" and "No," leaving room for interpretation. Furthermore, when questioned about any regrets regarding her wish and whether she would be happier with an alternative wish, she describes her present life, including having a husband, two kids, and driving an Audi. This portrayal of her life doesn't seem undesirable to the narrator.


It's not a neatly wrapped-up story with a definitive ending. The author deliberately left the ending open-ended, allowing readers to interpret it based on their own perspective.


Writing Style of Haruki Murakami


Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami is known for his distinct and captivating writing style, which combines elements of magical realism, introspection, and a touch of surrealism. This book delivers everything we have come to expect from magical realism. In his skilful storytelling, the author has described a detailed portrait of the restaurant manager, capturing his demeanour. He has also depicted the atmospheric charm of the restaurant and painted a picture of the owner's house, with the rain tracing its path on the windowpane. Yet, amidst these intricate details, the author veiled the girl's wish, leaving it to the realm of the readers' imagination.


I have personal insights regarding the protagonist's wish and the narrator's identity. However, I hesitate to share them here, as it could potentially disrupt the interpretations of those who haven't experienced the book yet. I encourage readers to explore and uncover their own understandings, allowing the story to captivate them fully.


Overall, I had an incredible experience reading Murakami's "Birthday Girl," and it has left me eagerly anticipating my next Murakami adventures. One of the books on my list is "Kafka on The Shore." Stay tuned for my upcoming review!


I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking a fresh and captivating addition to their literary journey. For those embarking on their Murakami reading, "Birthday Girl" serves as a perfect starting point.


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