Noted Japanese novelist, Haruki Murakami has sold books in the millions globally.
Murakami is thus a popular writer. But is he a paradigm-shaping one as well?
In his last two short stories, published in the New Yorker Magazine, “Samsa in Love” and “Scheherazade“, Murakami seems to have unleashed a new paradigm of power relations between men and women.
In both stories, Murakami’s men are confined to their homes. In “Samsa in Love”, Gregor Samsa, the man-turned-into-bug in Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Gregor re-turns to his human state after a prolonged existence as a bug inside his father’s house.
He had lived alone in a condition of utter isolation. Upon waking up one day as a human male, Samsa finds himself unable to step out of the house and resume life as usual.
He is afraid to go out.
In “Scheherezade”, Habara, a man, can’t leave his home. We don’t know why; it’s indicated that something terrible has befallen Habara making him house-bound.
For both Samsa and Habara, redemption comes in the form of women. The women visit the men as visitors visit prisoners in high-security prisons. Samsa is visited by a misshapen locksmith, while Habara has a nurse who comes every week.
A kind of intimacy is established between the confined males and the females who symbolize enlightenment brought in from the world from which the men are cut off.
The intimacy is not strictly sexual, though sex plays a big role in forging the relationships. The intimacy is oddly enough a version of enthrallment, a bondage.
The misshapen locksmith enthralls Samsa by telling him about the intricacies of the mechanical and spiritual world; she speaks of hearts and locks and Samsa feels he can learn how to unlock both with her help.
She becomes indispensable to Samsa.
The middle-aged nurse, who is exemplary in her ordinariness, enthralls Habara with her stories, like Scheherazade from A Thousand and One Nights. But in the Murakami cosmos, it’s Scheherazade who holds power over the listener. Habara is powerless in her presence. She starts and stops at her will.
Murakami’s new crop of women are becoming the bearers of enlightenment in a world in which men are trapped by the darkness of their egocentrism.
Back to my question: A paradigm is shifting?