I’ve decided to take on some of Murakami’s works. I’m really interested in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, but it’s just too damn long. I was afraid of such an undertaking considering I’ve never read this author before, so I decided to test the waters with Norwegian Wood, which is far shorter.
The book takes place in Japan during the 1960’s. Toru is a college student who is romantically involved with two very different girls, Midori and Naoko. He has a strange history with Naoko—she dated Toru’s best friend since childhood, but then he commits suicide. Naoko is a character who is "beautifully broken"--mentally fragile, the kind of girl you just want to hold. She is unable to deal with her pain and begins to live in a colony where people try to heal themselves through farmwork, simple routine, and exercise. The patients and doctors are almost indistinguishable from each other. The place sounds like a kind of awesome Utopia. Scenes between this colony and “the real world” with Midori are very unsettling. Murakami plays with the reader’s sense of reality, and at times it is difficult whether things are happening only in Toru’s mind or in actuality.
I particularly liked the book’s characters, especially Midori. She’s an absolute gem. I don’t remember the last time I’ve liked a character so much. Perhaps it was because I loved Midori so intensely, but Toru came off as a bit of an ass sometimes.
I think I will definitely read some more Murakami. I’m always hesitant about reading translations…I know that it’s irrational, that translations are usually good, but there’s always a part of me that’s thinking, “but that’s not the EXACT word the author wanted to use!” However, I have heard that Murakami’s English translations are fantastic, and after reading Norwegian Wood I would have to agree.