Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami

I read today like I used to read as a girl. I had some hundred odd pages left and wanted to finish the book in one go.

The book definitely has the flavour of a love story but to me its more than one love story. Toru Watanbe had several women in his life. Each of them knew that he was an innately decent guy. He lived his life with honesty and that was what they were looking for. To me that is enough reason to be with a man. Intellectual honesty.

There are parts of the book where just like in real life you can’t express why you did a particular thing, and in such parts things were left hanging to the reader’s imagination. Further, one could see Toru maturing and reaching a stage where he could understand himself and express the understanding with precision. The book started when he was seventeen and went to on when he was 20-21.

His greatest trait was that he accepted all persons with their limitations, their ugliness and their weaknesses as a matter of fact. The limitations were emotional – like Nagasawa, psychological –  like Naoko, physical – like Reiko with her age and her wrinkles and also sociological like Midori’s.  It was obvious he loved Midori, but never made his move on her till she was with someone else. He did not sleep with her till Naoko died.

What one may call his stubbornness, is really his strength.

To me “Norwegian Wood” is like a painting. A picture that depicts the life altering years of one man.

I loved it and would recommend it to everyone, age no bar sex no bar.

My husband read this book and told me its nothing like Wind-up Bird Chronicle, that one wouldn’t know unless told that it is the same author.  The truth is, this book may be far out from the league of Wind-up Bird Chronicle, but it is the same style. He expresses the philosophy of the protagonist through the voices of others, during their conversation with him. The randomness of the conversation with strangers and the ease with which he slips into deep conversations with certain people. The style is pretty much the same. The protagonist surprisingly doesn’t talk much. Just observes.

Also his rendition of college life is so real. I have lived in a hostel myself and know that I had left my parents far behind while I was trying to sort stuff out in my head. He never once mentions Toru’s parents or his relationship with them. Its not that Toru is dysfunctional socially or a sociopath, just that the years of his life being described have nothing to do with his social connections to his parents or others.

On the whole, a very enjoyable reading experience. I would give the book – 5 stars.

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