As a rather hardcore Murakami fan, Samsa in Love was a little disappointing.
For those who are unfamiliar with my reviews on Murakami’s works, they generally begin on the same note as my review of The Elephant Vanishes. Meaning: I usually wax poetic about this man’s writing and sometimes, express my befuddlement over how he writes brilliant stories like A Wild Sheep Chase and Kafka on the Shore without any prior planning at all. Unfortunately, this wont be the case for Samsa in Love.
From the very first line, we can deduce that this short story is a play of some sort on Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. While I think this is a pretty intriguing perspective, the entire story felt like it was lacking it’s usual Murakami Magic. I’m not saying that the writing doesn’t scream Murakami to me, but it just doesn’t emanate the brilliance his novels have…Which is understandable since the forms are different, but still, I had hoped—particularly since Samsa in Love is lacking that Kafka-feel (or at least, the Kafka-feel I get when I read The Metamorphosis) as well.
Anyway, I find Samsa in Love intriguing not because it’s about an insect transformed (I imagine that Gregor’s family just upped after his insect death and after kicking out/firing everyone else, left because Samsa in Love Gregor woke up in a bed while The Metamorphosis Gregor got disposed of) back into a man, but because of the things and emotions that are selected as ‘basic’ to being human. The most salient of this is the feeling of ‘shame’ and of ‘love’. Now, I’m not entirely clear on the story of Adam and Eve, but what I do know is that after they ate the apple, they gained additional knowledge and this included the concept of shame. This then, led to me wondering if Gregor and the hunchback lady are some sort of play on Adam and Eve. Though, I didn’t entertain this thought for long since Murakami might’ve written this short story of his without any plans whatsoever too.
The aforementioned aside, Samsa in Love is an alright story—sometimes cute but mostly alright. I didn’t really feel much for it, but I didn’t not feel anything as well.