Book Review 113: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

I have slowly been indoctrinated into becoming a Haruki Murakami fan.  The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle will make the third novel I have read and reviewed for the blog and the excellent memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I will write that so far in my Murakami reading experience, this writer has an interesting and strange imagination.  However, Murakami is a heck of storyteller and his just outside-of-the-borders-of-reality storytelling deserves all the praise and recognition he has received throughout his career.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is set in a Tokyo suburb where a man named Toru Okada is looking for his wife’s missing cat.  Okuda’s search for the missing cat takes him on a journey that connects to Japan’s involvement in World War II, a well from a nearby property, psychic prostitutes, a hyper-perceptive teenage girl, and a powerful politician out to destroy him and his marriage. It seems unlikely how all of these elements could come together in a novel.  Murakami’s combination of a matter-of-fact detective fiction style of prose with surrealistic touches brings all of these disparate elements together in six hundred pages of the Wind-up Bird Chronicle. It was the strangest and most brilliant reading experience I’ve had since Kafka’s Metamorphosis.

I’m still decompressing as reader days later after reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.  I will admit I still don’t know if I have captured the story that Murakami was telling in the book.

Is it about the history of contemporary Japan after World War II and the ramifications of war?

Is it about the connection you think you have to someone you love, but you never truly know the person?

Is it about the power of the imagination and supernatural having a real impact on a person’s everyday life?

Those questions have run through my mind after reading the novel.  I believe the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is about all of things and so much more.  If you are Murakami fan and have not read this novel…..please do.  I’m not sure this is the book for newcomers to his work.  I would recommend Norwegian Wood or Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage for newcomers or my favorite, A Wild Sheep Chase.  The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is a book I will remember for a long time and that’s one of the best things you can say after reading a novel.

 

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