Original title: “バースデイ・ガール” Translator: Jay Rubin
Country: Japan Language: Japanese Genre(s): Short story
Published in Harper’s (2003), Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (2006) Media type: Print
Publication date: 2002
Published in English: 2003
It is an intriguing short story written by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, who is known for his straightforward scene portraits, blunt dialogue, and genuinely confused narration. He adds this little touch of suspense to his novels which leaves the reader awestruck. His notable works are believed to be thought-provoking.
The birthday girl is written in a frame narrative or frame tale, which is a literary technique that serves as a companion piece to a story within a story. The title of the story is apt as it is a story of a young, hardworking and married woman who recollects the memory of her twentieth birthday, which she had spent working overtime as a waitress at an Italian restaurant in Roppongi because her friend got sick. The hermit-like owner of the restaurant gets his food delivered to him room service-style by the manager of the restaurant every night at 8 pm. But that night the manager falls sick and he was rushed to the hospital. So, the woman has this responsibility on her shoulders to serve food to the owner. Later when the story unfolds it makes the space for numerous possibilities and stories in the mind of the reader. Also, at that time when the Birthday girl was written, the majority age of Japan was 20 years. It was considered one of the special life events.
For only 40-odd pages, this book makes the reader want to reread it several times. It has great details and wholly it is entertaining with an open-end. Towards the end, one can test his/her imagination skills. This book is highly recommended for readers who love intriguing stories. Also, one can easily get pleased with master storytelling by Haruki Murakami.
“No matter how far they go, people can never be anything but themselves”. Haruki Murakami, Birthday Girl.