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Norwegian Wood


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'Murakami must already rank among the world's greatest living novelists' Guardian

About the Author

Haruki Murakami is the author of many novels as well as short stories and non-fiction. His books include Norwegian Wood, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Kafka on the Shore, 1Q84, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, The Strange Library and Wind/Pinball. His work has been translated into more than 50 languages, and the most recent of his many international honours are the Jerusalem Prize and Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award.


A huge success when it was published in Japan in 1987 and only now translated into English, this book would seem to bear little resemblance to Murakami's surreal later novels (e.g., The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle) and has been dismissed as just another love story. But it is more. Overcome by the Beatles song "Norwegian Wood," which affects him the way the madeleine affected Proust, narrator Toru spills out the story of his younger self; best friend Kizuki, a suicide at 17; and Kizuki's beloved, Naoko. After Kizuki's death, Toru falls in love with the beautiful, fragile Naoko, who quickly recedes into mental illness. Toru tracks her to a rest home, where he is befriended by her decades-older roommate, Reiko. But as Naoko deteriorates, he falls in love with a woman at his school who is also troubled but is frisky and open. Toru is honorable and intelligent. He questions his obligations: to the dead, to the living, and to himself. And Reiko? Is she a somewhat sinister figure, coming to almost instant intimacy with Toru? Or is sheDas she is presentedDa sympathetic, almost tragic, figure who wishes all the young people well? Deeply moving, darkly comic, beautifully written, and smoothly translated, this is for all literary fiction collections.DJudith Kicinski, Sarah Lawrence Coll. Lib., Bronxville, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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 *

In a complete stylistic departure from his mysterious and surreal novels (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle; A Wild Sheep Chase) that show the influences of Salinger, Fitzgerald and Tom Robbins, Murakami tells a bittersweet coming-of-age story, reminiscent of J.R. Salamanca's classic 1964 novel, Lilith√Ąthe tale of a young man's involvement with a schizophrenic girl. A successful, 37-year-old businessman, Toru Watanabe, hears a version of the Beatles' Norwegian Wood, and the music transports him back 18 years to his college days. His best friend, Kizuki, inexplicably commits suicide, after which Toru becomes first enamored, then involved with Kizuki's girlfriend, Naoko. But Naoko is a very troubled young woman; her brilliant older sister has also committed suicide, and though sweet and desperate for happiness, she often becomes untethered. She eventually enters a convalescent home for disturbed people, and when Toru visits her, he meets her roommate, an older musician named Reiko, who's had a long history of mental instability. The three become fast friends. Toru makes a commitment to Naoko, but back at college he encounters Midori, a vibrant, outgoing young woman. As he falls in love with her, Toru realizes he cannot continue his relationship with Naoko, whose sanity is fast deteriorating. Though the solution to his problem comes too easily, Murakami tells a subtle, charming, profound and very sexy story of young love bound for tragedy. Published in Japan in 1987, this novel proved a wild success there, selling four million copies. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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