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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki…

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (original 1997; edition 2010)

by Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin (Translator)

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12,465235194 (4.22)2 / 723
Title:The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Authors:Haruki Murakami
Other authors:Jay Rubin (Translator)
Info:Vintage Books (2010), Paperback, 609 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

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

Recently added byj_blett, wreichard, zkazy, JadeV10, ccatalfo, nomadica, jrrrheard, private library, Estramir, Liisib
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English (208)  Dutch (6)  Danish (4)  French (4)  Swedish (4)  Spanish (3)  Italian (2)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  Hebrew (1)  German (1)  All languages (235)
Showing 1-5 of 208 (next | show all)
This book sucked me into its web of strangeness. It has a hypnotic quality that makes it different from anything else I have read. Some parts are very gruesome and disturbing which was quite upsetting. However, I had to continue. There seemed to be no choice about that!
The novel consists of several layers of stories within stories and dreams within reality as well as some episodes where it is difficult to be sure what is real and what is a dream. The stories are linked in bizarre and obscure ways - through a well or water, or through a voice in a telephone or several other ways. The characters telling these stories are each the hero (or villain)of their tale and all are fascinating.
What an imagination! An amazing book. ( )
  rosiezbanks | Apr 7, 2015 |
this book drew me in further and further with each new layer of interesting characters and their stories. it projects a surreal landscape over a very mundane world with unusual people who never seem to be quite done with telling their tale.

there are some truly disturbing themes and descriptions in the book alongside sobering glimpses of the horrors of war, family struggles, hints of alternate realities, eldritch arts and arcane knowledge, musings on infidelity and marriage, cooking spaghetti, etc. the stories and characters are so very disparate that opening the book to random pages might confuse the casual browser because it will seem like a wholly different book depending on what page they open to. and yet, these stories weave together a grand dreamlike myth that seems to speak from the depths of the Jungian archetypical human mind but they never tell a complete, linear story. they intrude upon the "plot" and then linger in the back of your mind as the most tenuous of connections bind the characters together to deliver some deeper meaning that you can't quite grasp in the light of day. ( )
  keebrook | Mar 10, 2015 |
Valt een beetje tegen, er zijn wel grappige dingen, maar mij te veel los zand. 'Net zo'n chaos als het leven zelf'. Oké, dat is voor mij geen verhaal; dan liever Hermans. Waarom geen losse verhalen ervan gemaakt?
Schrijfstijl niet mooi en onfijn. Waarom overal zo lyrisch over het surrealisme, Dat is toch gewoon een stijlvorm?
Omslag past goed.
Uit! aan het eind worden wat touwtjes aan elkaar geknoopt, prettig, de spanning en deus ex machina hadden dan weer niet gehoeven. Was ik te dom om zo weinig symboliek te zien? En Japan is zeg maar, niet echt zo mij ding. ( )
  EMS_24 | Jan 11, 2015 |
Before my first trip to Japan, I could not recall a Japanese author I had read, so I looked up some recommendations and settled on the novel The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami.

Wnd Up Bird Chronicle The basic plot is about a man who goes searching for a lost cat, but discovers a lot about his marriage and his life in the process. It is a bit of a mystery story that has a dark and quirky David Lynch Ê la Twin Peaks feel to it. There are many cultural-related details that come out in the novel that I can match to things I noticed on my trip to Japan: There is the preoccupation with and day‰Ûªs highlight of food (though the protagonist surprisingly eats a lot of potato salad), a fastidiousness with cleanliness and dress, reverence for apology, the importance of gardens and self-reflection and also the perseverance in being. I also really enjoyed the author‰Ûªs obvious affection for jazz and cats, which my experience and observations there lead me to believe many Japanese people share.

Some people would say that the protagonist is very passive ‰ÛÒ he quits his job and people and events happen to him. Two of the only intentional things he does are to go into a dry well to try to visit a kind of parallel reality and visit a train station to watch people. But inside he is on that universal search for understanding, and I found the book very engaging, though a little long. I think the English translation combines three of his novels into one and even cuts about 25,000 words. I ordered it on ebook, but I just looked it up and it seems to be about 600 pages in hard copy. Still I would very much recommend this book to anyone interested in Japanese culture or those who enjoy magical realism and novels about self-discovery. ( )
  JeaniaK | Dec 13, 2014 |
Toru Okada has quit his job and isn’t sure what to do next. His wife Kumiko assures him this isn’t a problem financially, and meanwhile he can be helpful at home while she works; she instructs him to search for their lost cat in the alley behind their house, and alerts him to expect a call from a psychic she has consulted about the situation. The alley connects to an abandoned property with a notorious reputation, where a “wind-up bird” with a distinctive sound is never seen. Across the alley he is observed by a teenage girl who is out of school recuperating from a motorcycle... accident? or maybe not... and offers a bit of macabre comic relief in her chitchat about her job with a wig manufacturer. The psychic’s sister is a “prostitute of the mind”, who was in body “defiled” by Kumiko’s brother, who is now a politician rising in prominence. Kumiko disappears, and informs Toru by letter that she has gone to her brother, which seems dubious as a voluntary action because she had married in part to extricate from her dysfunctional family. An old friend of the family, who had endorsed the marriage, dies and leaves a package that is delivered by a lieutenant who was stationed in Manchuria during WWII and tells a story about imprisonment in and escape from a dry well. Toru climbs into the dry well on the abandoned property, and enters a dream? magical? world that has real physical effects such as a mark that appears on his face. Toru also whiles away time at a train station, where he his noticed by a healer because her father, who was a veterinarian at a zoo in Manchuria during WWII, had an identical mark on his face. The healer’s son is a mute genius, whose computer system provides a more mystical than technical route to communication with Kumiko.

So maybe I lack the cultural context to notice references. Or maybe the story doesn’t make sense. There is a hefty component of meaningful? gratuitous? weirdness. If it’s meaningful, I don’t get it. If it’s gratuitous, I don’t like it. At one point Toru wonders why all these connections are swirling around with WWII at the center, and I thought ah, this will be clarified eventually, but alas no, at least not that I could discern. 600 pages and I guess the thing is to enjoy the journey, but I didn’t especially. Or rather, I was quite drawn in to paragraphs and pages and chapters at a stretch because of the meticulous descriptions, but the pieces didn’t hang together. I don’t need “reality”, but I do need coherence.

Also, a warning: I typically skip over graphic violence, but the matter-of-fact tone didn’t sufficiently mark the entry into horror so I kept going, and felt obligated to stick with a few disturbing and nauseating scenes of torture. After the first such episode, when I reached the start of a war chapter at night, I set the book aside until morning so my memory would be eroded by distractions during the day.
  qebo | Nov 22, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 208 (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.

» Add other authors (37 possible)

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.
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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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)

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