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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by…
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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel (original 1997; edition 1998)

by Haruki Murakami

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
12,069222212 (4.23)2 / 671
Member:InfectiousOptimist
Title:The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel
Authors:Haruki Murakami
Info:Vintage (1998), Edition: 1st Vintage International Ed, Paperback, 624 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:**1/2
Tags:magical realism, WWII

Work details

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (1997)

  1. 102
    Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (derelicious)
  2. 61
    1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (Kordo)
  3. 40
    Ghostwritten by David Mitchell (derelicious)
  4. 30
    Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins (Alialibobali)
  5. 20
    A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon (DeDeNoel)
    DeDeNoel: Both this and Wind-Up Bird are about a man dealing with odd circumstances and going through a change. If you like the way Murakami writes, you probably will enjoy Mark Haddon's writing.
  6. 20
    The Little Friend by Donna Tartt (ainsleytewce)
  7. 10
    The Magus by John Fowles (WoodsieGirl)
  8. 10
    Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (andomck)
    andomck: Both books, besides having science fiction/magical realism elements, discuss bloody episodes of WWII from the point of view of everyday people.
  9. 10
    Oh!: A mystery of 'mono no aware' by Todd Shimoda (Magus_Manders)
  10. 10
    The Sea Came in at Midnight by Steve Erickson (alzo)
  11. 00
    Vilnius Poker by Ricardas Gavelis (Sarasamsara)
  12. 00
    After the Quake by Haruki Murakami (andomck)
  13. 00
    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (eromsted)
  14. 11
    The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster (alzo)
  15. 00
    How the Hula Girl Sings by Joe Meno (andomck)
  16. 00
    The Bus Driver Who Wanted To Be God & Other Stories by Etgar Keret (-Eva-)
  17. 01
    The Interpreter by Suki Kim (booklove2)
    booklove2: Both books involve a displaced from the world character searching for clues to solve mysteries.
  18. 12
    The Man with the Golden Arm by Nelson Algren (andomck)
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English (194)  Dutch (6)  Danish (4)  French (4)  Swedish (4)  Spanish (3)  Italian (2)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  Hebrew (1)  German (1)  All languages (221)
Showing 1-5 of 194 (next | show all)
I have been in a dream for the past two weeks, reading this book. I love the writing style of Murakami, and he really is a genius. It is at times a challenging read, as we meet an extraordinary set of (mostly women) cast of characters, and as reality conflates and blurs and we are no longer sure if we are in a dream, hallucination, an emotion, or reality. The book takes on a bit of noir as we climb with Toru to the bottom of a dry well, racing down dark passages, aided by a Hollow Man.

I loved this book and the experience of reading it. It really is that, an experience. I dunno if it is for everybody, at times it takes a little work and can maybe even be uncomfortable--but for those of us that enjoy that work, much MUCH is to be gained. ( )
  kbullfrog | Jun 30, 2014 |
I adore this book and wish I could carry my enthusiasm for Murakami to his other works. But in contrast to Wind-Up Bird Chroncle, they all disappoint. (Kafka On the Shore especially devolved into some wretchedly bad writing after the first half. Or was it wretchedly bad translation?) Anyway, I have read Wind-Up Bird twice and will read it again. My favorite part is the sequence set during World War II near the Khalkha River in Outer Mongolia. This is Lieutenant Mamiya's tale of a daring special operation that goes horribly wrong. Along the way a man is flayed alive in very methodical fashion by a Russian operative. But don't be misled. This is just one of the several fascinating digressions that the story undertakes. It is not a war story by any means, but is set for the most part in booming Tokyo during the 1980s. Hypnotic. Not to be missed! ( )
  William345 | Jun 11, 2014 |
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle follows everyman Toru Okada through an increasingly strange series of events that all began when his cat disappeared. His wife eventually disappears without a trace, he meets a teenage dropout well-versed in wigs, he becomes increasingly interested in wells and the Japanese rule in Manchuria during the War. Each character he meets on his strange journey to the bottom of a well (a literal well) and back out again has a story to tell that is intricately linked to Okada, his wife, and his brother-in-law.

This is a meandering and engrossing novel by Murakami, one that draws the reader deeper into the web of mysteries surrounding Okada, who along with the reader struggles to find meaning in it all. At the same time as expertly portraying the Weird and Mysterious, Murakami demonstrates his ability to make even the mundane fascinating. Okada's world of cooking, reading, jazz, and beer become just as engrossing.

One of the more noticeable problems is the similarities between Okada and the nameless protagonist of Dance, Dance, Dance: both have their significant other/partner walk out on them, both are pushed by nameless forces towards a greater mystery, both cook and read, and listen to jazz; though Okada manages to maintain more of the reader's interest.

Nevertheless, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is one of Murakami's greater works and demonstrates his true power as an author and storyteller: he lures the reader in with the exquisitely mundane before revealing the dreamlike world and characters lurking on the edges of our own mundane existence, ready to reveal to us the same kind of metaphysical mysteries that Okada found.

( )
  xuebi | May 30, 2014 |
My review from my blog:

Don’t fight the Universe. When it wants you to go down, find the deepest well and descend it. When it wants you to go up, find the highest point and ascend it. When your cats runs away, and a psychic tells you you’ll likely never see it again, be patient and it just might return. Oh, and don’t be afraid of strangely titled books by Japanese authors. Not, at least, if the author’s name rhymes with Schmurakami.

I first encountered Haruki Murakami in the Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, which is, perhaps, his most overtly fantastic novel. Those who have read more than a couple of his novels know that in general they are set in the modern world (give or take a couple decades) but with a fantastic twist and dollop of surrealism.

Wind-Up is cast in this mold. Toru and Kumiko Okada, married with the grudging consent of her family, are a middle class couple in Tokyo. He is out of work, but they are not hurting for money. Aside from their cat who has gone missing and Toru’s odd and growing assortment of female acquaintances, their middle class lives are unremarkable – or so they think and so it seems to the reader.

However, Toru’s world is turned upside down when his wife inexplicably leaves him. He is about to learn just how unordinary his live can get. Through the help of the (very real) psychic Kumiko’s brother, Noboru Wataya, put Kumiko and Toru in contact with (to help them locate the missing cat), Toru learns that Kumiko met with Noboru shortly before leaving and that he apparently assisted her flight. This is strange to Toru, as both he and his sister dislike Noboru. Thus begins Mr. Okada’s quest to find his wife. Along his journey, he adds to his circle of odd female friends, and makes a couple male ones who are at least as interesting in their own way. All of them assist him in different ways, rarely directly but instead by offering opportunities or oblique advice.

The beauty of Murakami’s writing is that for all the odd situations in which his characters find themselves and the peculiar things that happen to them nothing seems forced or contrived. Indeed, things seem natural, or at least, given the circumstances they to. On top of this, in the case of Wind-Up, while Okada accepts that he cannot fight the universe he does not abdicate responsibility. He works with the hand he’s been dealt and does so in some, shall we say, novel ways. He accepts the consequences of his strange actions, of the particular path he picks. Along the way he blends his intuitive and analytical sides to interpret the snippets of advice and events to navigate this less and less mundane world, which has real psychics and where one can, in a deep enough and dark enough well or dream, slip into a surreal Tokyo sympathetic with the real one.

If there is a lesson in Wind-Up it is indeed that while we are at the mercy of many things we still bear responsibility for ourselves. When you work with the hand the Universe deals you, you still need to work after all. ( )
  qaphsiel | May 11, 2014 |
My review from my blog:

Don’t fight the Universe. When it wants you to go down, find the deepest well and descend it. When it wants you to go up, find the highest point and ascend it. When your cats runs away, and a psychic tells you you’ll likely never see it again, be patient and it just might return. Oh, and don’t be afraid of strangely titled books by Japanese authors. Not, at least, if the author’s name rhymes with Schmurakami.

I first encountered Haruki Murakami in the Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, which is, perhaps, his most overtly fantastic novel. Those who have read more than a couple of his novels know that in general they are set in the modern world (give or take a couple decades) but with a fantastic twist and dollop of surrealism.

Wind-Up is cast in this mold. Toru and Kumiko Okada, married with the grudging consent of her family, are a middle class couple in Tokyo. He is out of work, but they are not hurting for money. Aside from their cat who has gone missing and Toru’s odd and growing assortment of female acquaintances, their middle class lives are unremarkable – or so they think and so it seems to the reader.

However, Toru’s world is turned upside down when his wife inexplicably leaves him. He is about to learn just how unordinary his live can get. Through the help of the (very real) psychic Kumiko’s brother, Noboru Wataya, put Kumiko and Toru in contact with (to help them locate the missing cat), Toru learns that Kumiko met with Noboru shortly before leaving and that he apparently assisted her flight. This is strange to Toru, as both he and his sister dislike Noboru. Thus begins Mr. Okada’s quest to find his wife. Along his journey, he adds to his circle of odd female friends, and makes a couple male ones who are at least as interesting in their own way. All of them assist him in different ways, rarely directly but instead by offering opportunities or oblique advice.

The beauty of Murakami’s writing is that for all the odd situations in which his characters find themselves and the peculiar things that happen to them nothing seems forced or contrived. Indeed, things seem natural, or at least, given the circumstances they to. On top of this, in the case of Wind-Up, while Okada accepts that he cannot fight the universe he does not abdicate responsibility. He works with the hand he’s been dealt and does so in some, shall we say, novel ways. He accepts the consequences of his strange actions, of the particular path he picks. Along the way he blends his intuitive and analytical sides to interpret the snippets of advice and events to navigate this less and less mundane world, which has real psychics and where one can, in a deep enough and dark enough well or dream, slip into a surreal Tokyo sympathetic with the real one.

If there is a lesson in Wind-Up it is indeed that while we are at the mercy of many things we still bear responsibility for ourselves. When you work with the hand the Universe deals you, you still need to work after all. ( )
  qaphsiel | May 11, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 194 (next | show all)
By the book's midway point, the novelist-juggler has tossed so many balls into the air that he inevitably misses a few on the way down. Visionary artists aren't always neat: who reads Kafka for his tight construction? In ''The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle'' Murakami has written a bold and generous book, and one that would have lost a great deal by being tidied up.
 
Mr. Murakami seems to have tried to write a book with the esthetic heft and vision of, say, Don DeLillo's ''Underworld'' or Salman Rushdie's ''The Moor's Last Sigh,'' he is only intermittently successful. ''Wind-Up Bird'' has some powerful scenes of antic comedy and some shattering scenes of historical power, but such moments do not add up to a satisfying, fully fashioned novel. In trying to depict a fragmented, chaotic and ultimately unknowable world, Mr. Murakami has written a fragmentary and chaotic book.
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Haruki Murakamiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Haughton, RichardCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rubin, JayTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When the phone rang I was in the kitchen, boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along to and FM broadcast of the overture to Rossini's The Thieving Magpie, which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta.
Quotations
He normally stayed shut up in the small office he had there, but every now and then he would leave the door ajar, and I was able to observe him at work--not without a certain guilty sense of invading someone’s privacy. He and his computer seemed to be moving together in an almost erotic union. After a burst of strokes on the keyboard, he would gaze at the screen, his mouth twisted in apparent dissatisfaction or curled with the suggestion of a smile. Sometimes he seemed deep in thought as he touched one key, then another, then another; and sometimes he ran his fingers over the keys with all the energy of a pianist playing a Liszt etude. As he engaged in silent conversation with his machine, he seemed to be peering through the screen of his monitor into another world, with which he shared a special intimacy. I couldn’t help but feel that reality resided for him not so much in the earthly world but in his subterranean labyrinth.
. . . a person's destiny is something you look back at after it's past, not something you see in advance.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Please do not combine with Volume 1 or 2 of the 2-volume edition.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679775439, Paperback)

Bad things come in threes for Toru Okada. He loses his job, his cat disappears, and then his wife fails to return from work. His search for his wife (and his cat) introduces him to a bizarre collection of characters, including two psychic sisters, a possibly unbalanced teenager, an old soldier who witnessed the massacres on the Chinese mainland at the beginning of the Second World War, and a very shady politician.

Haruki Murakami is a master of subtly disturbing prose. Mundane events throb with menace, while the bizarre is accepted without comment. Meaning always seems to be just out of reach, for the reader as well as for the characters, yet one is drawn inexorably into a mystery that may have no solution. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is an extended meditation on themes that appear throughout Murakami's earlier work. The tropes of popular culture, movies, music, detective stories, combine to create a work that explores both the surface and the hidden depths of Japanese society at the end of the 20th century.

If it were possible to isolate one theme in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, that theme would be responsibility. The atrocities committed by the Japanese army in China keep rising to the surface like a repressed memory, and Toru Okada himself is compelled by events to take responsibility for his actions and struggle with his essentially passive nature. If Toru is supposed to be a Japanese Everyman, steeped as he is in Western popular culture and ignorant of the secret history of his own nation, this novel paints a bleak picture. Like the winding up of the titular bird, Murakami slowly twists the gossamer threads of his story into something of considerable weight. --Simon Leake

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:50 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Having quit his job, Toru Okada is enjoying a pleasant stint as a "house husband", listening to music and arranging the dry cleaning and doing the cooking - until his cat goes missing, his wife becomes distant and begins acting strangely, and he starts meeting enigmatic people with fantastic life stories. They involve him in a world of psychics, shared dreams, out-of-body experiences, and shaman-like powers, and tell him stories from Japan's war in Manchuria, about espionage on the border with Mongolia, the battle of Nomonhan, the killing of the animals in Hsin-ching's zoo, and the fate of Japanese prisoners-of-war in the Soviet camps in Siberia.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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