Norwegian Wood

Norwegian Wood : Discover Haruki Murakami's most beloved novel

4.03 (514,751 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 
4.03 (514,751 ratings by Goodreads)

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'A masterly novel' New York Times

'Such is the exquisite, gossamer construction of Murakami's writing that everything he chooses to describe trembles with symbolic possibility' Guardian

Read the haunting love story that turned Murakami into a literary superstar.

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

'Poignant, romantic and hopeless, it beautifully encapsulates the heartbreak and loss of faith' Sunday Times

'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
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Product details

  • Paperback | 400 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 24mm | 277g
  • Vintage
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0
  • 9780099448822
  • 203

Review Text

New edition.
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Review quote

Norwegian Wood is Japan's The Catcher in the Rye * Daily Telegraph * Everyone who reads Norwegian Wood runs out to buy copies for friends and lovers... Drawing on Fitzgerald, Capote, Chandler and the Japanese tradition, his books are at once disarmingly direct and slyly, charmingly evasive. They are playful and melancholy; full of wrong turns and red herrings, corridors that lead nowhere and - above all - girls who disappear * Guardian * A masterly novel. . . . Norwegian Wood bears the unmistakable marks of Murakami's hand. * The New York Times Book Review * 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. Quietly compulsive and finally moving * Times Literary Supplement *
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About Haruki Murakami

In 1978, Haruki Murakami was 29 and running a jazz bar in downtown Tokyo. One April day, the impulse to write a novel came to him suddenly while watching a baseball game. That first novel, Hear the Wind Sing, won a new writers' award and was published the following year. More followed, including A Wild Sheep Chase and Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, but it was Norwegian Wood, published in 1987, which turned Murakami from a writer into a phenomenon. His books became bestsellers, were translated into many languages, including English, and the door was thrown wide open to Murakami's unique and addictive fictional universe.

Murakami writes with admirable discipline, producing ten pages a day, after which he runs ten kilometres (he began long-distance running in 1982 and has participated in numerous marathons and races), works on translations, and then reads, listens to records and cooks. His passions colour his non-fiction output, from What I Talk About When I Talk About Running to Absolutely On Music, and they also seep into his novels and short stories, providing quotidian moments in his otherwise freewheeling flights of imaginative inquiry. In works such as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, 1Q84 and Men Without Women, his distinctive blend of the mysterious and the everyday, of melancholy and humour, continues to enchant readers, ensuring Murakami's place as one of the world's most acclaimed and well-loved writers.
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Rating details

514,751 ratings
4.03 out of 5 stars
5 36% (184,782)
4 39% (200,965)
3 18% (94,699)
2 5% (26,152)
1 2% (8,153)

Our customer reviews

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?show more
by Nada BN
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 more
by Rowan Allen
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