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Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Norwegian Wood (original 1987; edition 2000)

by Haruki Murakami

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,168221282 (3.99)4 / 361
Title:Norwegian Wood
Authors:Haruki Murakami
Info:Vintage (2000), Paperback, 298 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, Japanese, magical realism

Work details

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (1987)

  1. 81
    The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (philrafferty)
    philrafferty: Murakami's masterwork.
  2. 40
    1Q84 Book 1 by Haruki Murakami (jalonsoarevalo)
    jalonsoarevalo: MAravillosa recreación tomando como letmotiv el libro de Orwell 1984
  3. 85
    Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (hippietrail, Jannes)
    Jannes: Many interesting parallells, and the protagonist of Norwegian Wood compares himself with Holden Caulfield from Catcher on several occations.
  4. 00
    In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan (ursula)
    ursula: Murakami is influenced by Brautigan. Both are simple but weird tales of love and life.
  5. 00
    Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Lex23)
    Lex23: Both books beautifully describe a difficult relationship between a man and a woman with a psychiatric background
  6. 11
    1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (Kordo)
  7. 00
    Who is Mr Satoshi? by Jonathan Lee (alzo)
  8. 00
    Socrates In Love by Kyoichi Katayama (alalba)

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English (166)  Spanish (15)  Dutch (15)  Catalan (4)  Swedish (4)  French (4)  Italian (4)  Hungarian (2)  German (2)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Portuguese (1)  Hebrew (1)  Korean (1)  All languages (221)
Showing 1-5 of 166 (next | show all)
Having just arrived in Hamburg, Germany, 37 year old Toru Watanabe hears an orchestral cover of The Beatles’ song “Norwegian Wood” which reminds him of his college years. In high school his best friend, Kizuki completed suicide and Watanabe moved to Tokyo for college in the hopes to escape the pain. One day he was reunited with Kizuki’s girlfriend Naoko and they sought solitude in each other’s company. However this relationship wasn’t the right solution for Naoko and she left for a secluded mountain sanatorium near Kyoto.

Norwegian Wood is often referred to as the best starting point when diving into the works of Haruki Murakami, mainly because this is one of the few books that don’t have a magical realism thread to it. This is a good place to start but what I find fascinating is the way Murakami uses magical realism to explore ideas of the mind. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage and Norwegian Wood don’t have that same fantastical style but they still follow similar themes. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki looks at the psychological impacts of losing friendships, while this novel looks at ideas of memory. From what I have read so far, Murakami’s other books do similar things but the use of magical realism allows him to dive into the mind and explore it as a fantastical world.

I have heard Norwegian Wood described as a coming of age story so many times, but I find it difficult to classify this book as such; for the simple fact that Toru Watanabe is 37 years on at the start of the novel, even though the majority of the novel is set during his college years. I think this is more a reflection on life and love, a novel that explores ideas of memory and nostalgia through themes like loss, depression and sexuality. This leads me to wonder just how reliable Watanabe really is and if there is a ‘rose coloured glasses’ perception happening in the novel. However the way this novel comes together and deals with memory (especially at the end) works so well and I can understand why Norwegian Wood is a Haruki Murakami favourite for many people.

One thing that really stuck with me with Norwegian Wood is the way Murakami developed characters. I found most characters to be complex and well rounded, they all had a unique personality and it was such a joy to read something with such great character development. A favourite of mine was Midori, who reminds me a lot of my wife; a confident and sure character who is at times insecure but has a great interest in talking about sex with others. She was the highlight of the whole novel and I always looked forward to her turning up within the story.

Before I knew who Haruki Murakami was, I saw the 2010 Japanese movie adaptation and thankfully I forgot most of the story. While images and plot points did come back to me as I read the novel, I was glad I didn’t have that outside influence but now I do need to re-watch the movie. Norwegian Wood is a great starting place if you have never read Haruki Murakami before. Apparently Murakami isn’t too happy that this is the novel that people will read or recognise him by, but it really is one of his stand out books. I have so many more Murakami books to read and I am really looking forward to diving into them all.

This review originally appeared on my blog; http://literary-exploration.com/2015/03/08/norwegian-wood-by-haruki-murakami/ ( )
  knowledge_lost | Mar 9, 2015 |
While this isn't the quirky trip that many Murakami books are, it's a pretty good book about a guy growing into his own, dealing with loss in his formative years, and having a lot of sex. ( )
  mhanlon | Feb 18, 2015 |
Suppose I told you that I had just finished reading a book about a 19 year-old college student who passes his days going to class and studying disinterestedly while spending his nights in bars getting drunk and looking for one-night relationships. Although in no way an intellectual, this young man does read a lot, with books by J.D. Salinger, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Mann, and Hermann Hesse being among his favorites. Also, to help pay the bills, he works part time in a record store and really likes to listen to music, especially classical recordings and songs by the Beatles. Finally, he finds himself torn between loving two different women, one who is emotionally fragile but to whom he has deep, tragic ties and another who seems bright and lively, but has dark issues of her own.

So, have I just described virtually every coming-of-age novel written about college kids growing up in the United States during the last 40 years? Maybe, but in Norwegian Wood, we are actually introduced to Toru Watanabe, a young man living in Tokyo in the late 1960s. Indeed, it is an indication of the author’s deft touch that he has been able to craft his protagonist into something of a universal “Everyman” while still making him very much a product of a Japanese upbringing and cultural heritage. We feel Toru’s angst, conflicts, loneliness, and occasional joys from half a world (and half a century) away, which is a great credit to Murakami’s skill at telling a compelling and relatable story.

This novel has been described elsewhere as “elegiac” and that is a perfect word for it. To be sure, Toru has his share of good times and sex—a lot of sex, in fact—but at its heart Norwegian Wood is a melancholy and somberly tinged look at how he reconciles his life-long devotion to the troubled Naoko with the love and deepening connection he feels for the vivacious Midori. Without giving away too many details of the plot, it is also a tale that forces the reader to consider the effects that mental illness and suicide have on the close friends and family of those so afflicted. Certainly, the matter-of-fact way in which the details of those issues are presented forces us to focus more on the consequences than on the events themselves.

I was quite moved by this novel, which was the first of Murakami’s works that I have read. While it was written in a more naturalist manner than the post-modern style the author is best known for, this is a powerful story that is delivered in a subtle and heartfelt way. The narrative is not perfect—the initial framing device of having a 37 year-old Toru reflect back on his school days was quickly abandoned and there is little development of Toru’s or Naoko’s family life—but it is very effective at capturing the mood and spirit of the times. It is also one that shows us in a most poignant way that growing up is hard, no matter where in the world you live. ( )
  browner56 | Dec 29, 2014 |
Come un sasso piatto che salta sull'acqua di un lago, così M. scivola sulle vite di questi ragazzi giapponesi, e delle loro famiglie, e lascia intravedere, nel momento in cui il sasso sfiora l'acqua, la profondità e il grigiore dei loro malesseri, delle domeniche tristi, delle serate paniche.
A differenza del sasso, che prima o poi farà l'ultimo balzo, il libro di M. mantiene indefinitamente la leggerezza del volo e si mantiene alto sulle acque scure, sparendosene chissà dove, terminata l'ultima pagina.Gran bel sito personale
http://tinyurl.com/kkg7r ( )
  bobparr | Dec 14, 2014 |
Kirjassa japanilainen teatteritieteen opiskelija menettää parhaan ystävänsä, kun tämä tappaa yllättäen itsensä. Parhaan ystävän tyttöystävä Naokon ja päähenkilön välille syntyy erikoinen suhde, kun surun jakamisesta syntyy jotakin rakkaustarinaa muistuttavaa. Naoko voi kuitenkin huonosti ja joutuu muuttamaan kauas vuorelle sijaitsevaan parantolaan. Sillä aikaa päähenkilö tutustuu Midoriin, välittömään opiskelijatyttöön, joka ymmärtää paremmin kuin kukaan. Katkeransuloinen tarina rakkauden etsimisestä, kaipauksesta ja surusta. Romaanissa on vaikutteita mm. Fitzgeraldin Kultahattu-romaanista ja Thomas Mannin Ihmevuoresta, jotka molemmat mainitaan päähenkilön lukemina kirjassa. Kirjan nimen mukaisesti romaanissa myös Norwegian Wood -kappaleella ja musiikilla on teoksessa tärkeä osa. ( )
  KafkaRannalla | Nov 30, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (56 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Haruki Murakamiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Elbrich FennemaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nolla, AlbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Porta, LourdesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rubin, JayTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I was 37 then, strapped in my seat as the huge 747 plunged through dense cloud cover on approach to Hamburg airport.
Eu tinha trinta e sete anos e viajava, de cinto posto, no meu lugar enquanto o enorme 747 mergulhava através de uma densa cobertura de nuvens a aproximar-se do aeroporto de Hamburgo.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375704027, Paperback)

In 1987, when Norwegian Wood was first published in Japan, it promptly sold more than 4 million copies and transformed Haruki Murakami into a pop-culture icon. The horrified author fled his native land for Europe and the United States, returning only in 1995, by which time the celebrity spotlight had found some fresher targets. And now he's finally authorized a translation for the English-speaking audience, turning to the estimable Jay Rubin, who did a fine job with his big-canvas production The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Readers of Murakami's later work will discover an affecting if atypical novel, and while the author himself has denied the book's autobiographical import--"If I had simply written the literal truth of my own life, the novel would have been no more than fifteen pages long"--it's hard not to read as at least a partial portrait of the artist as a young man.

Norwegian Wood is a simple coming-of-age tale, primarily set in 1969-70, when the author was attending university. The political upheavals and student strikes of the period form the novel's backdrop. But the focus here is the young Watanabe's love affairs, and the pain and pleasure and attendant losses of growing up. The collapse of a romance (and this is one among many!) leaves him in a metaphysical shambles:

I read Naoko's letter again and again, and each time I read it I would be filled with the same unbearable sadness I used to feel whenever Naoko stared into my eyes. I had no way to deal with it, no place I could take it to or hide it away. Like the wind passing over my body, it had neither shape nor weight, nor could I wrap myself in it.
This account of a young man's sentimental education sometimes reads like a cross between Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar and Stephen Vizinczey's In Praise of Older Women. It is less complex and perhaps ultimately less satisfying than Murakami's other, more allegorical work. Still, Norwegian Wood captures the huge expectation of youth--and of this particular time in history--for the future and for the place of love in it. It is also a work saturated with sadness, an emotion that can sometimes cripple a novel but which here merely underscores its youthful poignancy. --Mark Thwaite

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:17:52 -0400)

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This stunning and elegiac novel by the author of the internationally acclaimed Wind-Up Bird Chronicle has sold over 4 million copies in Japan and is now available to American audiences for the first time. It is sure to be a literary event. Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman."-- Cover.… (more)

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