69 Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami (1949- )

Murakami Haruki (1949- )

Japanese

Contemporary Literature

“The Second Bakery Attack” is a short story by Murakami Haruki (surname: Murakami), a critically acclaimed and popular Japanese writer. This short story, first published in English in Playboy magazine in 1985, is also part of The Elephant Vanishes (1993), a collection of Murakami’s seventeen short stories in English translation. “The Second Bakery Attack” displays many of Murakami’s signature styles and approaches, such as mixing realism and surrealism (or magical realism), the use of interior monologue, allusions to popular culture and Western culture, and postmodernist elements. Along with the metaphor of the insatiable hunger the couple feels, what is noteworthy in the story is the newly married couple’s changing gender dynamics upon the (partial) release of the husband’s “secret,” and the impact on the husband’s psychology of these gender dynamics. Murakami’s other notable works include Men without Women (2014), IQ84 (2009-10), Kafka on the Shore (2002), The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (1994-95), Norwegian Wood (1987), and A Wild Sheep Chase (1982). Many of his works have been translated into English (and their publication years are different from the original publication years listed above) by such translators as Philip Gabriel, Jay Rubin, and Alfred Birnbaum. Murakami is also a translator himself, having translated Western literary works into Japanese.

Consider while reading:

  1. What might be the significance of gender in this story?
  2. What elements of the story would you consider surreal?
  3. What might be the metaphorical implication of the couple’s hunger?

Written by Kyounghye Kwon

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