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A Wild Sheep Chase

(The Rat #3)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  105,407 ratings  ·  5,538 reviews
His life was like a recurring nightmare: a train to nowhere. But an ordinary life has a way of taking an extraordinary turn. Add a girl whose ears are so exquisite that, when uncovered, they improve sex a thousand-fold, a runaway friend, a right-wing politico, an ovine-obsessed professor and a manic-depressive in a sheep outfit, implicate them in a hunt for a sheep, that m ...more
Paperback, 353 pages
Published April 9th 2002 by Vintage (first published October 13th 1982)
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Livia It's part 3 but I read it before knowing that it was part of a series and when reading it, you wouldn't even think that it was a series. It's not like…moreIt's part 3 but I read it before knowing that it was part of a series and when reading it, you wouldn't even think that it was a series. It's not like other authors who sometimes built stories one upon another. Each book is a stand-alone in itself and doesn't depend on earlier books.(less)
Ron Record We cannot tell you why Dance Dance Dance is included in the Rat series because that would be a spoiler. Read A Wild Sheep Chase and you will understan…moreWe cannot tell you why Dance Dance Dance is included in the Rat series because that would be a spoiler. Read A Wild Sheep Chase and you will understand. Then read Dance Dance Dance, it is magnificent.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  105,407 ratings  ·  5,538 reviews

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Reading Murakami is like experiencing someone else's dream. Trying to review Murakami is like trying to remember your own -- scattered events, confusing narrative lapses, inexplicable elements, petrified whale penises. A series of images:

images 3795518810_524e7dba1e

seven-stars-limited-edit-m 135-Sapporo-draft

rat1 OSHAM-00003623-001-FB

seven-stars-limited-edit-m 135-Sapporo-draft

black_sheep_lighters KissaneSheepFarm

seven-stars-limited-edit-m 135-Sapporo-draft

tabbyCat001 william-mary-grandfather-clock


And then you wake up. And wonder what that was all about.
Mar 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who want a rather light read that can develop into something deeper
Shelves: read-in-2008, own
A Wild Sheep Chase was the third book that I have read by Murakami. I found out after I finished that it is that third book in "The Trilogy of the Rat". The first two books in this series are now out of print, but after reading A Wild Sheep Chase, I think I have to chase down some used copies of the novels and experience the trilogy in full.

I interpreted the novel to be a story of emotion journey more than a story of physical journey. There was an actual journey involved as the main character we
Ahmad Sharabiani
Hitsuji o Meguru Bōken = A Wild Sheep Chase (The Rat, #3), Haruki Murakami

This quasi-detective tale follows an unnamed, chain-smoking narrator and his adventures in Tokyo and Hokkaido in 1978.

The story begins when the recently divorced protagonist, an advertisement executive, publishes a photo of a pastoral scene sent to him in a confessional letter by his long lost friend, 'The Rat.' He is contacted by a mysterious man representing 'The Boss,' a central force behind Japan's political and econo
Apr 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviews
'A Wild Sheep Chase' is a trippy tale with a mix of detective story, myth, fantasy and philosophy. Though it can be enjoyed simply as a fable at its face-value, just a little thought reveals a multi-layered allegory. On one hand, "the sheep" could signify post-war Japan itself. At the same time, the protagonist's sheep chase also ends up being a search for his own identity, his emotions and meaning of his existence. It is as much a physical journey as a spiritual journey. There are also several ...more
Andrew Smith
May 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
A play on the old saying ‘a wild goose chase', I'm afraid this book reads more like another old saying, ‘a complete waste of time’. It felt to me that a random series of events had been linked together to form a very loose and aimless narrative. I really had no idea what was going on or what I’m supposed to take from this tale.

I’m a fan of the author and I believe he’s written some stunning books, my personal favourites (in order) being:
1. 1Q84
2. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle
3. Kafka on the Shore
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, japan

My first Murakami and I really enjoyed it.
May 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
A roller coaster of a book. Since it's hard to describe and others have already done so, I'm just going to go with how it made me feel to read it. An unorthodox way to review a book, but maybe not for a book made of magical realism, mystery, philosophy, sex, drinks, rock and roll and of course the ubiquitous sheep, in which you never learn the names of the characters and they really don't matter anyway. At times it's all wheeeeeeeee and then it's ooooof, then more wheeeeee and ooooooof with some ...more
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jenna by: Lori
Shelves: out-of-asia, fantasy
This book is incredibly imaginative and has vibrant, colourful characters I enjoyed. However, I feel like Haruki Murakami added many layers of meaning to this book and if so, they elude me. If there is an underlying meaning to this book, I can't tell you what the heck it is. Or maybe there is no underlying meaning. Maybe it's just a magical story and my brain always wants there to be something more.  

For the most part,A Wild Sheep Chase is an enjoyable story and I'll probably go back and read th
Jen - The Tolkien Gal
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mini-reviews
Was this a good book?

Hell yes

Was this Murakami's best?

No, but he does hold high standards for himself.

Did I enjoy it?


Was I confused since I read the third in this series first?

Definitely, but it's Murakami so it might have been more confusing had I known the backstories.

Do I remember any of the plot?


Was the man dressed as a sheep/sheep man scary?


Would I recommend this book?

Definitely. I loved it. Can't remember why, or how, but it was good. 11/10 would read again.

Image result for sheep costume

2021 edit:
Nov 17, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Is it just me, or is reading a three star book more depressing than reading an awful book? Both have their cons but, for me, nothing is more ennui inducing than an average, meh type of book. As unique and weird as the premise is, it definitely got boring most of the time. I can't tell you much about the main character besides that he likes to read, drink beer and go to bed a lot. You could literally play a drinking game on how many times a chapter ends with the main character going to sleep. Oh, ...more
Chris Shaffer
Oct 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of the impossible and the fantastic.
Shelves: translations
When one is approached by a random person and asked to locate a life form that is physically unable to exist, but which you have a picture of, and you choose to do it because you have to, you know you're in for something fantastical. Part noir thriller, part philosophical daydream, the wild sheep chase moves effortlessly along (partially due to the brilliant translation), and scene by scene we are more and more drawn into the story of soon to be thirty year old J. Philosophical detours into enty ...more
Nov 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: haruki-murakami
I wrote the following review two and a half years ago. Now that I've read A Wild Sheep Chase again, I don't think there's any need to change anything. Or maybe there's a great need to do so, I'm not sure. In any case, I'd rather put Benny Goodman's Airmail Special and breathe in deep the spring evening air.

On the back cover of this special 3D edition of "The Wild Sheep Chase", there's this quote by The Washington Post which goes like this: "Lean forward and topple headlong into magic". Well, it
Jul 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: lit-fiction
An interesting read, three and a half stars for beauty in language. While I can't say I "really liked it" in the "will re-read one day" sense, I appreciated the richness of the ideas and language offered. I normally tend to devour a book in two or three sittings, but this was a book that worked well reading three or four chapters a night, breaking into small, choice pieces. Although there is a mystery that drives the plot, I would hesitate to say that is the focus of the book, so I didn't feel l ...more
Mutasim Billah
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan
“I don't really know if it's the right thing to do, making new life. Kids grow up, generations take their place. What does it all come to? More hills bulldozed and more ocean fronts filled in? Faster cars and more cats run over? Who needs it?”

This is the first book Murakami wrote as a full-time novelist, and his third overall. The third book in the Rat Trilogy, the story revolves around a strange mystery surrounding an enigmatic sheep in Hokkaido, and how the narrator starts on an adventure to f
Thank you again, brian tanabe!

Books like these, I feel like a child who has finally graduated to the grown-up table only to find that the cultery is too big and sharp, the edge of the table is level with my eyes, and the conversation always above my head. But no! I refuse to be demoted back to the kids' table with all the babies! I wanna eat here and contribute to the discussions about whether a vacation home in Hawaii or the SE islands would be better (so boring...zzzz....) and did you catch wh
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing

But that's why I loved it!!!

I'm serious. This book was so creepy it had me wiggling around in my seat in discomfort. Yet, I was absolutely captivated! I couldn't put the book down!

If you're a reader looking for a book that will take you more than one read to truly grasp, then this is the book for you. It had my brain churning and my fingers tapping with nervous energy.

I'm not going to give a bit of a run-down of the book as I've done in previous reviews mostly because it w
Oct 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2020

Such an amazing reread!
Nov 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Miss New Zealand
Recommended to Mariel by: Little Bo Peeping Tom

I wish I could have written about Murakami's A Wild Sheep Chase here when I'd read it. I wish that goodreads was around back then. The magical and plain old world as we know it life through best teacher voice (this is my favorite kind of voice because I'm a confused person) that made the every day seem full of possibilities. Sinister possibilities as well as good ones. That's my favorite kind of thing, the ability to make that stuff interesting, with easy humor. I'm really into the build-up of t
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Haruki Murakami ran a jazz club in Tokyo prior to his career as an author. And it’s not just the presence of music in his novels that provides evidence of that. It’s also the books themselves which have a very “jazz like” feel to them. Murakami himself has said:

"It's kind of a free improvisation. I never plan. I never know what the next page is going to be. Many people don't believe me. But that's the fun of writing a novel or a story, because I don't know what's going to happen next. I'm searc
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: asian-literature
Murakami will not answer your questions!
In A wild Sheep Chase same as Murakami's other works, the ambiguous perspective towards reality is underscored and he refrains from answering the readers' question, forcing them to interpret meanings by themselves. This style is called non-solution and this actually contributes to the mysterious milieu of the novel, making it a truly postmodern detective story. One can say the story mirrors Jazz, you should not try to understand it, instead, you should "li
Barry Pierce
The third novel in the Trilogy of the Rat sees our unnamed narrator go on his most ambitious and frenzied journey yet. Boiling the deranged plot down to its simplest terms, it is about a man trying to find a sheep.

A Wild Sheep Chase is something of a love letter to Thomas Pynchon, or at least that's how I read it. The plot is quite similar to that of The Crying of Lot 49 (an ordinary person accidentally stumbles upon a very dark secret, they see the same mysterious symbol everywhere, there's a

This was WONDERFUL. This was the first Murakami book thusfar that made me feel the same as when I was reading "Wind Up Bird" - pleasantly confused (similar to when you're dreaming and know things don't make any sense but go along with it anyway) and itching to see what happens next! I adored how fleshed out the Rat and the unnamed narrator became in this installment, and it was a HUGE improvement from his first two novels. And this did exactly what I loved so much in Wind Up Bird and K
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Just about everyone ... spread the world with Murakami

Our hand-reared cockatiel is on borrowed time if she continues to peck lumps off the books on my Murakami shelf. Clearly, she likes his books as well (but for different reasons than me). She moved from 1Q84 (unread), to this book, as the little bite marks attest.

Vacuum the paper trail. Breathe. Ahhhhhhhhh.

Oh my goodness, every time I read this man I swoon with admiration. There’s something extremely comforting for me, knowing I’m in the hands of a masterful technician of the written word like M
Gregor Xane
Nov 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Murakami's books are very hard for me to review/write about. Before I sat down to write this, I went back to look at my reviews for the other works I've read by him. They weren't helpful in the least. Two of the reviews were extremely brief and for the other book, it appears that I just left a star rating and went on with my life.

So, I guess I'll start by saying that Murakami has moved into my list of favorite authors. His writing style is so smooth, so idiosyncratic, and his subject matter is s
Richard Derus
Jul 30, 2018 rated it liked it
I read this in 2007? 2008? and was able to get all the way through the book without rolling my eyes so hard I could see my brain. The plot kept me moving briskly from event to event, the characters were flat and obnoxious as usual.

I'll never voluntarily pick up a Murakami book again, but if you're looking for one to start with, I'd say do it here. It's in no way necessary to have read others in this series, loosely defined, though it's always possible I simply missed maaaaaaaarvelous enrichments
May 11, 2008 rated it it was ok
I wasn't all that impressed with this book. I love Murakami and have read three other books by him. The ideas in this book are good and some of them kept me thinking and even inspired me to write about them, but the themes took over the book and the plot and characters suffered. I found myself only finishing it in hopes that somehow I would end up being impressed by it, as I was with the Wind Up Bird Chronicle. Whta I did really like about it and this can be said of all his writing is that the s ...more
Caro the Helmet Lady
Jun 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with imagination and those who talk to their cats
I was reading Murakami before it was cool. cough, cough
I've read this book for the first time 10 years ago. It was my first Murakami and I fell in love. And since then I started tracing down and devouring everything that he's written and what was translated into any language I could understand. I was successful. So successful that I actually run out of Murakami.
So for some time now I was feeling like rereading some of his novels, especially A Wild Sheep Chase and was a bit afraid of disappointm
Farhana Sufi
Murakami is not everyone's cup of tea.

His books are mostly depressing.. with desolate characters, mostly men, men who do not know where their life is heading, why they are doing what they are doing, men who have women in their lives quite easily, and are not as terribly lonely in a physical way as they are mentally. The women in his books are in short - aloof; women who are independent, strong-willed, leave when they want to, wherever they want to, how they want to. Women who are also lonely and
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
A Wild Sheep Chase is the fourth Murakami book I have read. Like all his works this too seems to be a beautiful story but as one moves with the book words get deeper with their meanings.
Its actually a tale of one's own wild chase of human existence which is symbolised with a sheep.
Multi layered with human emotions and surreal quest embedded within frame of mythology and magical realism, book is bound to take the reader far from his living world.
What I appreciate the most is the author's simple
Edward Lorn
3.5 stars rounded down due to some annoyances.

In his memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami says that A Wild Sheep Chase was his first serious crack at writing a novel. He'd published two lesser works, (Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973, both of which are collected in Wind/Pinball: Two Novels), but he does not consider them up to his standards. Having now read his first three novels, I'm comfortable saying, Mr. Murakami is correct. This novel is a far superior pro
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Murakami Haruki (Japanese: 村上 春樹) is a popular contemporary Japanese writer and translator. His work has been described as 'easily accessible, yet profoundly complex'. He can be located on Facebook at:

Since childhood, Murakami has been heavily influenced by Western culture, particularly Western music and literature. He grew up reading a range of works by Am

Other books in the series

The Rat (4 books)
  • Hear the Wind Sing (The Rat, #1)
  • Pinball, 1973 (The Rat, #2)
  • Dance Dance Dance (The Rat #4)

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