Grace Le Fay's Reviews > Norwegian Wood

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
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May 30, 2010

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Read in March, 2010

Norwegian Wood is probably most accurately summarised as a tale of wandering, sex and disenchantment. On a flight to Hamburg, an old song plays over the in-flight radio and Toru Watanabe is pulled into memory: it is 1969 and he is a university student; a bit of a drifter. The only real forces in his life are Naoko, the emotionally troubled girlfriend of his deceased best friend, and Midori, an impulsive and lively drama student.

Norwegian Wood was the novel that catapulted Murakami into mainstream Japanese popularity, apparenly so much to his dismay that he fled the country. The romantic premise is a segue from the detached hyper-reality of his previous books, but ultimately Norwegian Wood is not a romance. It is, at the very least, an interesting peek into the lives of minds of Japanese youth. Murakami’s characters are bewilderingly intense (to the point of caricature at times), emotional and (in my opinion) crazy, but you never doubt that they are real. The atmosphere of youth and poignancy carries this through to the finish.
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