The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

I’m busy preparing my Retrospective View for 1968, but I haven’t read one of the most significant novels from the year (Stand on Zanzibar); so, while I’m reading it (it might take me a couple of weeks), I’m going to re-post a few reviews I made on my other blog (I suppose I’m being rather lazy, but I’ve posted quite a few reviews there that are ‘speculative’ in nature).

Haruki Murakami has become one of my favorite authors; he isn’t for everyone’s tastes, but The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle feels like a book he was working toward for years. Most of his usual themes are present, as is his ubiquitous protagonist-type; the lonely, thirty-something male, who allows outside influences to guide him through life.

Wind-Up_Bird_ChronicleIn this novel, Toru Okada loses his job, his cat, and his wife; he searches for the latter two, and opens his world to an extraordinary array of characters, stories, and situations.

There are several threads within the frame of the narrative, some of which remain unresolved to the satisfaction of some reviewers; however, I found the novel eminently satisfying. I’ve encountered many complaints about extensive cuts in the translation from Japanese to English, and counter-claims (some from the translators) that the Japanese edition was poorly edited and required ‘trimming.’ I can’t read Japanese, so I can’t compare the editions; however, I thoroughly enjoyed the English version and I suspect that many of the problems that readers had with ‘discontinuity’ were not a result of the translation; rather, the sense of discontinuity is a trademark of Haruki Murakami’s surreal craft.

There are frustrating sections, and disturbing scenes and moods, but there is a prevailing atmosphere of hope within the beat of its metaphysical heart.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle won the prestigious Yomiuri Prize (1995) for Literature: the recipient receives a million Japanese yen and an inkstone (the prize was awarded by Oe Kenzaburo, one of Murakami’s harshest critics).

Highly recommended.

Haruki Murakami has several other exceptional novels (e.g.: Kafka on the Shore, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and A Wild Sheep Chase), and I’ll get around to separate reviews of them some day…

If you’re interested, have a look at the author’s site

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