Thoughts on: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

January 31, 2012

Article first published as Book Review: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (Jay Rubin, trans.) on Blogcritics.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami is a fictional1987 novel set in 1960s Tokyo, Japan. The novel became popular with Japanese youth and propelled Murakami to new heights of fame.

  • 298 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • ISBN: 0375704027

My rating for Norwegian Wood – 4

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Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami is a memorable story, yet simple and unassuming. Patience seemed to be the main theme as it seems the narrator, Toru Watanabe, waits for a woman to return his love.

Unlike Murakami other books, this one lacks the supernatural over a more practical themes such as choosing a realistic partner over a lost fantasy. Watanabe copes with loss throughout the book and the tale, told in flashbacks, is mostly how he copes with them.

The characters are well defined and realistic while they battle tragedy tossed at them at every turn by Murakami. They have romantic inspirations and rejections, struggle with depression and flawed. There are many references to dead or dying characters for a short book such as this.

While many of the pages are gloomy, many others are filled with hope and humor. If I had to use word to describe this novel I would choose “authentic” as the book feels fresh and non-conventional. It is beyond me how the author managed to create such a unique atmosphere while writing, it certainly came across to me as a reader – and of a translated work nonetheless.

This is a readable book, intensely individual and from my understanding an earlier translation was used by school children in Japan to learn English. I found that a bit amusing since the book includes masturbation, drunkenness, promiscuity, masturbation, molestation, mental illness, suicide and more.

This is before I learned that the book was banned in the US.

So tell me, how can it be that this book is banned in the US, “land of the free”, while in Japan the translation is given to school children?

Toru Watanabe reminisces about his days as a college student in 1960s Tokyo. At the time Watanabe developed strong relationships with two women whose personalities are opposite of one another. Naoko is beautiful yet troubled while Midori is outgoing and lively.

Great price on this book in paper or elec­tronic for­mat
through the Man of la Book Affil­i­ate Account

Zohar – Man of la Book
Disclaimer: I got this book for f

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