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A Wild Sheep Chase (1982)

by Haruki Murakami

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: A Wild Sheep Chase (complete), The Rat (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,732124991 (3.91)268
A marvelous hybrid of mythology and mystery, A Wild Sheep Chase is the extraordinary literary thriller that launched Haruki Murakami's international reputation. It begins simply enough: A twenty-something advertising executive receives a postcard from a friend, and casually appropriates the image for an insurance company's advertisement. What he doesn't realise is that included in the pastoral scene is a mutant sheep with a star on its back, and in using this photo he has unwittingly captured the attention of a man in black who offers a menacing ultimatum: find the sheep or face dire consequences. Thus begins a surreal and elaborate quest that takes our hero from the urban haunts of Tokyo to the remote and snowy mountains of northern Japan, where he confronts not only the mythological sheep, but the confines of tradition and the demons deep within himself. Quirky and utterly captivating, A Wild Sheep Chase is Murakami at his astounding best. 'A Wild Sheep Chase has the conventional hull of a thriller - a quest, a mystery, an extraordinary woman, and plenty of elegant duress - but its fantastic superstructure transforms it into something quite different...a science fiction fantasy, a romance, a metaphysical tease, or a dramatisation of philosophical ideas' Independent… (more)
  1. 10
    Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami (cpav55, NatalieSW)
    cpav55: Ademt dezelfde sfeer als De jacht op het verloren schaap.
    NatalieSW: Has a similarly odd look at a world that is like ours but off-kilter in a magical, philosophically absurd way.
  2. 10
    Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami (cpav55)
    cpav55: Dance Dance Dance (Dans Dans Dans) maakt met Pinball 1973 en De jacht op het verloren schaap min of meer deel uit van de serie, maar het zijn wel losstaande verhalen.
  3. 10
    After the Quake by Haruki Murakami (2810michael)
  4. 00
    Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (koenvanq)
  5. 00
    Pinball, 1973 by Haruki Murakami (cpav55)
    cpav55: Pinball 1973, Dans Dans Dans en De jacht op het verloren schaap vormen min of meer een serie, maar zijn wel losstaande verhalen.
  6. 00
    The Castle by Franz Kafka (olonec)
    olonec: chase, chase, chase
  7. 01
    Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (WSB7)
    WSB7: Vonnegut's take on the world is so similar to Murakami's
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» See also 268 mentions

English (100)  French (8)  Spanish (5)  Dutch (3)  Portuguese (2)  Italian (2)  Norwegian (2)  Danish (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (124)
Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
I was enjoying the plot but then it went off to never never land. Not sure what happened there. Not clear why a Japanese author writing a story that takes place in Japan keeps throwing in pop cultural references to american music. Yes it did at times feel like Thomas Pynchon. ( )
  Ed_Schneider | Aug 9, 2020 |
Sometimes I get real lonely sleeping with you. ( )
  SolangePark | Jul 12, 2020 |
I've had enough with the sheep.
  brandonlee | Jun 11, 2020 |
Favorite Quotes:

"Far off, someone was practicing piano. It sounded like tripping down an up escalator."
"She seemed to be thinking of something else entirely. Five dishes lay empty on the table, a constellation of five extinct planets."
"On a telephone pole, three plump pigeons burbled mindlessly away. Something had to be on their mind to be going on like that, maybe the pain from corns on their feet, who knows? From the pigeons' point of view, probably it was I who looked mindless."
"She shrugged and pushed her brassiere strap back inside her dress. Her face had no expression, like a photograph of a sunken city on the ocean floor."
"Huge birch trees of the kind you find up in Hokkaido, not the puny stunted variety that flank the entrance to your neighborhood dentist's office. These were birches that four bears could have sharpened their claws on simultaneously."
"Each time I peeled another ten-thousand-yen note from the wad of bills in my pocket. The wad showed no sign of going down no matter how many bills I used. Only I showed signs of wear."
"The place seemed curiously uninhabited. An odd house the more I looked at it. It wasn't particularly inhospitable or cold, nor built in any unusual way, nor even much in disrepair. It was just... odd. As if a great creature had grown old without being able to express its feelings. Not that it didn't know how to express them, but rather that it didn't know what to express."
( )
  edgecase | Jun 5, 2020 |
Reading Murakami is like falling into a dream, while being wide awake, holding a book in your hand! Murakami is not for those who want the usual in their story telling. Much of the story line is very conventional. A somewhat disaffected, somewhat successful Ad man is dealing with divorce and the dislocations from his youth that happens in the modern world. Suddenly he enters a world of super powerful, threatening men who coerce him into quest for, not the Golden Fleece, but the living sheep with a star on its back. This is very early Murakami. It lacks some of the higher polish of his later works but is free of almost all of his more recent conventions. This makes for an easier read and a more direct story line. Because I have come to admire this writer, I recommend it as a good place to start a reading relationship with a master teller of oddball stories.

I first came into contact with Haruki Murakami via his book 1Q84 (Vintage International). This is a great novel, but I later found that it was based on conventions he had developed several books earlier. My admiration was reduced by the thought that the latter book was not as inventive as I had originally believed.

What I should have done, and recommend to others is that you attempt to read his books in order This was difficult to do because he had been reluctant to authorize English editions of his early works. A Wild Sheep Chase is the third book of his Trilogy of the Rat. It was the first that I was easily able to acquire. The good news is that books one and two are now available in one buy: Wind/Pinball: Two novels. Hear the Wind Song is also his first book. So win/win.

Reading Murakami is like falling into a dream, while being wide awake, holding a book in your hand! Cnsists of below books in this order:
#1 Wind/Pinball
#2 A Wild Sheep Chase
#3 Dance Dance Dance

It is tricky to define what kind of books Murakami writes. The simple answer is fiction. His fiction tends to include traditional Japanese elements. There is a Spirit world, not always friendly to humans but not evil. As in other Murakami books there are references to a jazz club. (Murakami began his working life managing a jazz club. There are what will become common references to Western styles, food and music. There are parts that might be magic or science fiction and people can have extra real sensitivities.

Our Central character, usually described as a Phillip Marlow matter of fact kind of person has as his girlfriend, a woman who is an ear model and is only beautiful when she exposes her ears. She is also capable of hearing signs and portents.

This being the end of the trilogy, there are references to a number of characters that we have to accept absent a deep understanding of why they matter to our sheep chaser. However, the book works well as a standalone.

A Wild Sheep Chase was for me a change to begin to see a fine story teller in hs early years. I will be going back again to get the rest of this trilogy. My recommendation to you is that Haruki Murakami weaves not just stories but a world. Murakami world is slightly removed from ours. It is a rich and complex world and worth your reading time. ( )
  modioperandi | May 12, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Haruki Murakamiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Birnbaum, AlfredTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ortmanns-Suzuki, AnnelieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stalph, JürgenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tamminen, LeenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Westerhoven, JacquesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was a short one-paragraph item in the morning edition.
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I went back to the riverside road, and by the time I'd managed to catch a taxi the rain was coming down in a drizzle. To the hotel, I said.

"Here on a trip?" asked the old driver.

"Uh-huh."

"First time in these parts?"

"Second time," I said.
There are symbolic dreams — dreams that symbolize some reality. Then there are symbolic realities — realities that symbolize a dream. Symbols are what you might call the honorary town councillors of the worm universe. In the worm universe, there is nothing unusual about a dairy cow seeking a pair of pliers. A cow is bound to get her pliers sometime. It has nothing to do with me.

Yet the fact that the cow chose me to obtain her pliers changes everything. This plunges me into a whole universe of alternative considerations. And in this universe of alternative considerations, the major problem is that everything becomes protracted and complex. I ask the cow, "Why do you want pliers?" And the cow answers, "I'm really hungry" So I ask, "Why do you need pliers if you're hungry?" The cow answers, "To attach them to branches of the peach tree." I ask, "Why a peach tree?" To which the cow replies, "Well, that's why I traded away my fan, isn't it?" And so on and so forth. The thing is never resolved, I begin to resent the cow, and the cow begins to resent me. That's a worm's eye view of its universe. The only way to get out of that worm universe is to dream another symbolic dream.

The place where that enormous four-wheeled vehicle transported me this September afternoon was surely the epicenter of the worm universe. In other words, my prayer had been denied.

I took a look around me and held my breath. Here was the stuff of breath taking.
To sleep with a woman: it can seem of the utmost importance in your mind, or then again it can seem like nothing much at all. Which only goes to say that there's sex as therapy (self-therapy, that is) and there's sex as pastime.

There's sex for self-improvement start to finish and there's sex for killing time straight through; sex that is therapeutic at first only to end up as nothing-better-to-do, and vice-versa. Our human sex life — how shall I put it? — differs fundamentally from the sex life of the whale.

We are not whales — and this constitutes one great theme underscoring our sex life.
"Let me be as frank as possible with you," the man spoke up. his speech had the ring of a direct translation from a formulaic text. his choice of phrase and grammar was correct enough, but there was no feeling in his words.

"Speaking frankly and speaking the truth are two different things entirely. Honesty is to truth as prow is to stern. Honesty appears first and truth appears last. The interval between varies in direct proportion to the size of the ship. With anything of size, truth takes a long time in coming. Sometimes it only manifests itself posthumously. Therefore, should I impart you with no truth at this juncture, that is through no fault of mine. Nor yours."
"I lit up a second cigarette and ordered another whiskey. The second whiskey is always my favorite. From the third on, it no longer has any taste. It's just something to pour into your stomach."
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A marvelous hybrid of mythology and mystery, A Wild Sheep Chase is the extraordinary literary thriller that launched Haruki Murakami's international reputation. It begins simply enough: A twenty-something advertising executive receives a postcard from a friend, and casually appropriates the image for an insurance company's advertisement. What he doesn't realise is that included in the pastoral scene is a mutant sheep with a star on its back, and in using this photo he has unwittingly captured the attention of a man in black who offers a menacing ultimatum: find the sheep or face dire consequences. Thus begins a surreal and elaborate quest that takes our hero from the urban haunts of Tokyo to the remote and snowy mountains of northern Japan, where he confronts not only the mythological sheep, but the confines of tradition and the demons deep within himself. Quirky and utterly captivating, A Wild Sheep Chase is Murakami at his astounding best. 'A Wild Sheep Chase has the conventional hull of a thriller - a quest, a mystery, an extraordinary woman, and plenty of elegant duress - but its fantastic superstructure transforms it into something quite different...a science fiction fantasy, a romance, a metaphysical tease, or a dramatisation of philosophical ideas' Independent

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