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Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
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Norwegian Wood (original 1987; edition 2000)

by Haruki Murakami

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,793231259 (3.99)4 / 384
Member:holmes111
Title:Norwegian Wood
Authors:Haruki Murakami
Info:Vintage (2000), Paperback, 298 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
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
    The 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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Showing 1-5 of 176 (next | show all)
Este es el primer libro que leo de Haruki Murakami. No se porque, pero esperaba algo mas transcendental, con esto no quiero decir que el libro sea poco profundo, todo lo contrario. El problema radica en la forma en la que se cuenta la historia, de manera lenta, al punto en que, por mucho que me interesara seguir leyendo, me daba sueño. Y debo decir que generalmente leer me quita el sueño.

La historia es deprimente, demasiados suicidios para mi gusto. Y aunque se trata de la vida de Toru Watanabe, se enfoca también, por momentos, en la vida de sus amigos: Kizuki, "Tropa de Asalto", Nagasawa, Reiko y especialmente de Naoko y Midori.

Naoko es la más resaltante, y las partes donde ella interviene me resultan particularmente tediosas. Es un personaje extremadamente débil, sus acciones son confusas, y nunca pude sentir simpatía hacia ella.

Por el contrario, amé a Midori. Sus diálogos son espectaculares, sarcásticos, divertidos y reales. Únicamente por ella, y debo admitir que en parte también por Reiko, es que este libro logró gustarme.
( )
  Glire | Jun 22, 2016 |
Romantic-erotic book. This is my third Murakami book. My first one was tHe Wind-up Bird Chronicle and I think it has it's similarity: the female characters are "different" but the narrator's character is passive. How many times Watanabe was driven by Midori or Naoko's decisions.

Secondly, when reading this book, I cannot stop wondering how easy it is for Japanese teenagers to be depressed and take their own lives. Is that the case at the time the book was written? However, I find this book interesting, curious to see what happens to the characters, although it is a dark, slow and flat book without climax and anticlimax. Murakami tells the story of how teenagers are trying to find themselves and how the death and sorrow build their characters along the way. ( )
  parvita | Jun 12, 2016 |
Its always a little sad for me when I don't finish a book. Just didn't care about these kids at all. At all. It's a shame, I think I may have just chosen the wrong Murakami book to start with, and now it will likely be a long time if ever that I read something else by him which may be a big miss on my part. Still, I couldn't have been more bored with this book. ( )
  BooksForDinner | Apr 15, 2016 |
I just finally found this title after forgetting everything about it, plot, author, title, everything except some little bits here and there. After finally finding it, though I wasn’t sure at first, I read it again after more than 10 years. Unexpectedly, I was really moved by it, more than anything I’ve read in a long time, and I’m pretty sure more than when I read it the first time. So I thought I would attempt to explore the message of Norwegian Wood by analyzing the novel to some degree. This is more of an analysis from a very personal viewpoint and is definitely not a review, so beware if you haven’t already read the book.

Firstly, what is Norwegian Wood about? It is not an autobiography, you realize that at some point, and the author has made that clear. But even if he didn't, and even if it were, it is not about all the vast experiences of a person, but rather a certain phase of life specifically, or a very specific theme. But at the same time it is broader than just death, which it clearly revolves around, the one most pivotal feature in the story.

So what kind of life revolves around death? What does experiencing death do to a young man who is just beginning to discover himself, who is going through the turmoil of changes most adolescents go through when reaching adulthood, the decisions, twists and turns that you either choose to make or are chosen for you? That is, though it may seem like it, not the question Murakami is asking.

Though the question is very much related, it’s somewhat difficult to notice. And I think that's because of it being such a part of life. Namely, the cycle of aggression and reaction that is part of love and relationships in general, and part of successfully making one’s way through this life. What am I talking about? I don't mean aggression like some kind of violence, or something harmful even, necessarily, but there is always (if you think about it, and if you contemplate the relationships as portrayed in the book which puts a magnifying glass to this) one side of each relationship which is at any given time playing the part of the aggressor. This can be done passively, subtely (though having nothing to do with being malicious - that is a different thing altogether) or more openly, and there are shades of grey in between to no end. Nagasawa is a complete aggressor, he has no passive side to him almost at all, though conceding to at least make up with Hatsumi when she can't take it anymore. Toru and Mildori, on the other hand, are more representative of a normal, functioning relationship, but if you look at it closely, Mildori is the aggressor. The love which Murakami paints in his novel is made with the colors of Mildori as they interact with the canvas that is Toru. Not 100% the recipient, but always, he is on the receiving end more than the giving. In Hatsumi’s case she has no reason to not interact with the world normally as the rest do, as far as we know, but is simply the victim of the raging conquest of her person that Nagasawa carries out. She receives more than she can bear and never recovers, though not for any fault or shortcoming of her own. In this regard – the latter point – she is somewhat unique amongst the other characters.

It is this receiving and giving, the perpetual passive aggressive cycle where the dysfunction lies, the dysfunction that all of the characters in the book are dealing with, some learning how to "fix" themselves and adapting, others not. Reiko was originally a victim by being nothing more than a recipient, she didn't express herself except through the piano, and not for herself, not for the love of it alone but always with the pressure of becoming the pianist she was supposed to. That unbearable pressure is what broke her in the first place, and the wound was reopened again when she was victimized by her female student, who caught her completely unaware with her coup d'etat, after her already traumatizing attack on her. While her story is the most dramatic, she is able to make a recovery, and her victory over herself or over her circumstances is the only one we are made sure of.

More complicated is the case of Kizuki and Naoko. We learn little about Kizuki, but can infer that he had a problem interacting with the world, since Naoko describes them as having no other link to the world besides Toru. His ultimate failure to reconcile his problems remains unexplained, and in a way, it is not the subject of the story at all, more of a historical landmark in the current setting. Somehow it happened; we can only imagine exactly what it was and how it ended in his suicide, but that singular dependence on him was more than Naoko could stand to lose. In their case, however, they were perfectly matched, neither being an aggressor more than the other, their relationship a very "siamese" one, very cerebral. This in itself created a strange dependence on each other which could never be replaced, and an alienation from the rest of the world that could never be removed.

That alienation from the world is another aspect to the theme of love and relationships that Murakami highlights several times. Giving and taking brings one to life, and makes one "part of the scene," which, when unable to do so, or unable to do so correctly, results in alienation, in emptiness. Not a character in the book is completely saved from this, from Stormtrooper to Nagasawa, who are at opposite extremes of every kind. How to learn to interact, to give and take, the subtleties of love, the choices that must be made, the pitfalls that must be avoided... so as to succeed in this game that is life, that is the question attempted to be answered, or at least pondered out loud by the rich tapestry of interactions that Murakami has woven.
( )
  AZG1001 | Mar 31, 2016 |
There's something about Murakami's writing that feels so natural, despite often having fantastical elements kneaded into the dough. As the translator noted, this might seem like an ordinary love story - but it's more than that. Love, death, mental illness, alcohol, sex, the passing of time, it's intricately woven into a story which feels more like experiencing these feelings and meetings rather than reading about it as an outsider. I felt hopeless, as our main lead does, about life, university, people, society, love. I felt warmth and a certain calm as he spent time in Kyoto with Naoko and Reiko in such a lovely place where time seemed to stand still. I was so involved in their world, in the world of the book, that I forgot about reality for short bits of time.

I think I've probably never read a book where so many people die. It might also be the first time I feel I have gotten to know so many characters on a deeper level, many of whom I liked.
I feel it's worthy of five stars, but I can't say it effected me as deeply as I know it has others. For instance, as I remember it, I liked Kafka on the shore better. Still, I appreciate it for what it is and still feel it's rather spectacular writing. ( )
  zombiehero | Mar 25, 2016 |
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:09 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

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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