The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Review


The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Haruki Murakami
Published by Vintage Books
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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Not so infrequently critiques, either Japanese or Western, have associated Murakami’s works both stylistically and thematically to Western writers such as Thomas Pynchon, Raymond Carver, Raymond Chandler, Don DeLillo and many others. By doing so, Murakami, while to a certain extent being denied an original voice, has been very often positioned as a writer indulging himself in the Western canon as opposed to his Japanese contemporaries who are dealing with the notion of Japaneseness. On the surface, such a view can be considered to hold some truth as Western references such as music, food, books, philosophy and so on occupy a great space in his works. However, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is irrefutably more Japanese than Western, if such a division of any literary work can/should be done. Perhaps, with its references to the Second World War Japan and the post-war Japanese politics and economy deals more openly with Japan and Japaneseness than any other of his works.

This voluminous work of Murakami is about a man called Toru Okada and fall of his marriage soon after his cat bearing the same name with his brother-in-law, Noboru Wataya, gets lost. Actually, everything starts with a strange phone call from a woman who claims to know Toru Okada. Although Okada cannot seem to recognize the voice of this mysterious woman, the phone call can be regarded as a foreshadowing concerning his wife and marriage. In addition to the strange phone calls, the novel surrounds itself around curious objects such as a cat, a mysterious house and a dried-up well as well as intriguing characters with their life stories somehow linked to the Second World War. These interesting characters and curious objects all together add up to the typical and magically surreal world of Murakami. Those who expect to find a surreal world as lavish as The Kafka on the Shore, unfortunately there is no fish raining from the sky. Yet, alternatively you may take a siesta at the bottom of a well if you fancy.
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