This was my first foray into the works of Haruki Murakami and I don’t now quite how to feel about it. The story is simple enough to follow, what I found most engaging were the characters. Perhaps it is because my exposure to japanese culture is limited, but I found them perplexing in more ways than I expected.

If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.

Murakami’s chief concern seemed to be exploring notions of grief. We are told early on that Kizuki kills himself; this act is mantelpiece around which Toru and Naoko revolves around. Toru comes across as full of apathy, apart from when it comes to Naoko. Naoko, on the other hand, is paralysed by the flood of unprocessed inputs. Their fates intertwined, and yet they their responses are seemingly opposites.

No truth can cure the sorrow we feel from losing a loved one. No truth, no sincerity, no strength, no kindness can cure that sorrow. All we can do is see it through to the end and learn something from it, but what we learn will be no help in facing the next sorrow that comes to us without warning.

I was drawn more to the supporting cast: Reiko, Midori, and Nagasawa. Part of that might be because in comparison to the two leads, they shone with depth, vitality, and character. Reiko is like your favourite auntie. Midori and Nagasawa are friends that make it easy to make memories with on account of how carefree and shameless they are.

Verdict

Neutral. If you are the type of person that reads 100 books a year, then by all means, give Norwegian Wood a go. But if you only read 12 books a year, it should not make the list.


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