Thursday, 18 June 2009

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakumi

As you must have guessed, this novel gets its title from the Beatles song 'Norwegian Wood (This bird has flown)'.

This novel doesn't contain the supernatural element that pervaded Murakumi's 'The Wind-up Bird Chronicle'. It's more realistic but melancholy and thought provoking. Again, Murakumi has conjured up real, flawed, interesting characters who each have an effect on our main character Toru Watanabe. In contrast, Toru Watanabe seems to be a bit bland and placid.

The novel is set in the 1960s and has the Tokyo student uprisings as a backdrop. Toru is not directly involved and both he and Midori, his friend, have no sympathies for those that are. They see their actions as half-hearted and their ideology as not thought through.

The plot had some very unexpected and tragic moments. This meant as with 'The Wind-up Bird Chronicle' I was absorbed from beginning to end. I cannot recommend this book enough.

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