The Elephant Vanishes
U.S. 1st edition cover
Zō no shōmetsu
|Translator||Alfred Birnbaum, Jay Rubin|
|Genre||Short story collection|
|Published||March 31, 1993 (Knopf|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
|LC Class||PL856.U673 E44 1993|
The Elephant Vanishes (象の消滅 Zō no shōmetsu?) is a collection of 17 short stories by Japanese author Haruki Murakami. The stories were written between 1980 and 1991, and published in Japan in various magazines then collections. The contents of this compilation was selected by Gary Fisketjon (Murakami's editor at Knopf) and first published in English translation in 1993 (its Japanese counterpart was released later in 2005). Several of the stories had already appeared (often with alternate translations) in the magazines The New Yorker, Playboy, and The Magazine (Mobil Corp.) before this compilation was published.
Stylistically and thematically, the collection aligns with Murakami's previous work. The stories mesh normality with surrealism, and focus on painful issues involving loss, destruction, confusion and loneliness. The title for the book is derived from the final story in the collection.
Many of the stories in the collection have been published previously in Japanese periodicals (not listed here), then translated in literary magazines (mentioned below). The stories are listed in the order in which they appear in the book.
in English in
|"The Wind-up Bird and Tuesday's Women"||The New Yorker (updated subsequently as the first chapter of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle)||1986|
|"The Second Bakery Attack"||Playboy||1985|
|"The Kangaroo Communiqué"||1981|
|"On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning"||1981|
|"Sleep"||The New Yorker||1989|
|"The Fall of the Roman Empire, the 1881 Indian Uprising, Hitler's Invasion of Poland, and the Realm of Raging Winds"||The Magazine (Mobil Corp.)||1986|
|"Barn Burning"||The New Yorker||1983|
|"The Little Green Monster"||Story Magazine||1991|
|"TV People"||The New Yorker||1989|
|"A Slow Boat to China"||1980|
|"The Dancing Dwarf"||1984|
|"The Last Lawn of the Afternoon"||1982|
|"The Elephant Vanishes"||The New Yorker||1985|
While the list above details which stories appeared before the publication of The Elephant Vanishes, many of the stories have also appeared elsewhere more recently:
- "On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning" was read on the Public Radio International show This American Life
- "The Little Green Monster" was read on the Public Radio International show Selected Shorts
The British theatre company Complicite collaborated with Japan's Setagaya Public Theatre to produce a stage adaptation also entitled The Elephant Vanishes. The production featured three of the stories in Murakami's collection ("Sleep," "The Second Bakery Attack," and the title story). Directed by Simon McBurney and starring a Japanese cast, the play opened in May, 2003, in Tokyo before touring internationally in limited festival runs. The performance was in Japanese with English supertitles.
The show incorporated a great deal of multimedia, which Complicite had traditionally eschewed, but married it with the company's trademark communal storytelling and demanding physical performance style. The eponymous elephant, for example, was represented at one time by a magnified eye on a video screen, and at another time by four live actors bent over office chairs. This combination of technical wizardry and compelling human narrative received high praise from critics, who also cited the play's humor, realism, and dreamlike motion as a fitting tribute to Murakami's prose.
- The short story The Elephant Vanishes inspired a research paper on Asian elephants and their impact on the well-being of the rural poor in India.
- The Second Bakery Attack was used as a scene in Der Eisbär, a German movie starring Til Schweiger, written and co-directed by Granz Henman.
- The Second Bakery Attack became a basis for an episode of the South Korean film trilogy "Acoustic".
- Full title 象の消滅 : 短篇選集, 1980-1991 (Zō no shōmetsu : tanpen senshū, 1980-1991). See also publication history at Haruki Murakami#Short stories.
-  Jadhav, S., and M. Barua. 2012. The Elephant Vanishes: Impact of human-elephant Conflict on people's well-being. Health & Place.
- IMDB - Der Eisbär