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Norwegian Wood

Norwegian Wood

Book rating: 03 Paperback Vintage Books

By (author) Haruki Murakami

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  • Publisher: VINTAGE
  • Format: Paperback | 400 pages
  • Dimensions: 129mm x 198mm x 25mm | 288g
  • Publication date: 4 July 2003
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0099448823
  • ISBN 13: 9780099448822
  • Sales rank: 735

Product description

When he hears her favourite Beatles song, Toru Watanabe recalls his first love Naoko, the girlfriend of his best friend Kizuki. Immediately he is transported back almost twenty years to his student days in Tokyo, adrift in a world of uneasy friendships, casual sex, passion, loss and desire - to a time when an impetuous young woman called Midori marches into his life and he has to choose between the future and the past.

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Author information

Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. He is the author of many novels as well as short stories and non-fiction. His works include Norwegian Wood, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Kafka on the Shore, After Dark and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. His work has been translated into more than forty languages, and the most recent of his many international honours is the Jerusalem Prize, whose previous recipients include J.M. Coetzee, Milan Kundera, and V.S. Naipaul.

Customer reviews

By Nada BN 15 May 2013 3

The main theme is despair, sorrow, not coping with life, loosing sense of life, floating. Two suicides of young people that had just started to live mark the beginning and the end of the novel, the suicide of Kizuki, the closest friend of Toru Watanabe, for no evident reason, and of Naoko, his girlfriend, whose mental troubles overcome her weak spirit. In spite of beautiful and poetical Japanese landscape pessimism prevails though Watanabe tries to let off the burden of two deaths and grip to life.
The Beatles's song used in title which originally is playful and ironical echoes through the story to end in bitter and hardly accepted resignation.
In 18th century the suicide of Goethe's Werther was the act of Weltschmerz, "world pain", of exaggerated romanticm. Is it possible that in Norwegian wood we read about modern "world pain", due to the culture of the 20th century?

By Rowan Allen 26 Aug 2010 4

Though Norwegian Wood raised Murakami from his quiet and brilliant existence to celebrated international territory, I meet it's common designation as his best work with disagreement. It pales in light of A Wild Sheep Chase, written five years before, and sequel Dance Dance Dance. However Norwegian Wood is still an exemplary model of his unparalleled prose.

Murakami's use of language in Norwegian Wood creates a near-tangible experience. One A5 page takes us, as Toru Watanabe, from feeling the reckless and smoggy consciousness of Watanabe's existence in Tokyo to his hypnagogic state in a mountainside sanatorium with Naoko.

This hypnagogic prose, albeit making the storyline less addictive, highlights the philosophies of Murakami's novel: it recognises nostalgia and the progressively sleepy memories at the back of his and all of our minds; the fervent attempts to piece together such moments and people we thought we'd never forget and the cold shower when you realise how fallible memory can be.

This is not the done-in-one-sitting-story but a beautiful prototype of Murakami's writing, the result of a master of words and the human condition. To achieve this in translation is to be applauded. I defy you to read one Murakami and not consume another.

Review quote

"Evocative, entertaining, sexy and funny; but then Murakami is one of the best writers around" Time Out "Such is the exquisite, gossamer construction of Murakami's writing that everything he chooses to describe trembles with symbolic possibility" Guardian "This book is undeniably hip, full of student uprisings, free love, booze and 1960s pop, it's also genuinely emotionally engaging, and describes the highs of adolescence as well as the lows" Independent on Sunday "Catches the absorption and giddy rush of adolescent love... It is also, for all the tragic momentum and the apparently kamikaze consciousness of many of its characters, often funny and quirkily observed." Times Literary Supplement "A heart-stoppingly moving story... Murakami is, without a doubt, one of the world's finest novelists" Glasgow Herald

Editorial reviews

A heart-stoppingly moving story... Murakami is, without a doubt, one of the world's finest novelists

Back cover copy

When he hears her favourite Beatles song, Toru Watanabe recalls his first love Naoko, the girlfriend of his best friend Kizuki. Immediately he is transported back almost twenty years to his student days in Tokyo, adrift in a world of uneasy friendships, casual sex, passion, loss and desire - to a time when an impetuous young woman called Midori marches into his life and he has to choose between the future and the past. 'Evocative, entertaining, sexy and funny; but then Murakami is one of the best writers around' Time Out 'Such is the exquisite, gossamer construction of Murakami's writing that everything he chooses to describe trembles with symbolic possibility' Guardian 'This book is undeniably hip, full of student uprisings, free love, booze and 1960s pop, it's also genuinely emotionally engaging, and describes the highs of adolescence as well as the lows' Independent on Sunday 'Catches the absorption and giddy rush of adolescent love... It is also, for all the tragic momentum and the apparently kamikaze consciousness of many of its characters, often funny and quirkily observed' Times Literary Supplement 'A heart-stoppingly moving story... Murakami is, without a doubt, one of the world's finest novelists' Glasgow Herald