From start to finish Haruki Murakami had me enthralled by his novel Norwegian Wood. I literally could not put this book down until I finished it. In fact, after a slow start due to business related travel, I completed the remaining three quarters of Norwegian Wood in just four days. This was by far my favorite of Marukami’s books, having previously read Kafka on the Shore, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, South of the Border and West of the Sun, and Men Without Women. All of these books were surpassed by the subliminal, smooth as jazz prose and captivating storyline in Norwegian Wood. The protagonist in this fictional love story is a young, ‘average’ Japanese man named Toru Watanabe, originally from the Kansai region of Japan, who is enrolled at a private college in Tokyo majoring in drama. This coming of age tale spans two years in Watanabe’s life from 1969 to 1970 in which he is confronted with the full spectrum of human experience from falling in love to the tragic loss caused by the suicide of both his closest friend, Kizuki, and of Naoko, the woman with whom he is madly in love. These experiences force Watanabe to grow up from a rudderless teenager skating through life, into a man who is comfortable in his own skin, and unafraid of facing the truth of what lies within his heart. Murakami masterfully weaves an intricate web of colorful characters into the narrative who engulf the protagonist in many complex contemporary issues from struggling with depression and mental health, to promiscuity, to the burden of taking caring of a dying family member. What I find most perplexing is why it took me so long to read this masterpiece by Murakami. I guess I dreaded reading this novel since I had heard many people ‘talk it up‘ as one of his most acclaimed books which would not be easy to understand nor to read. Yet to my complete surprise I did not find either of these to be the case. Norwegian Wood is hands down one of the best books that I have read in the past year!
Have you read Norwegian Wood or another of Haruki Murakami’s books? Which of his books and anthologies did you most enjoy reaing? Do you perhaps have a recommendation on what I should read next? Please feel free to share your thoughts in a comment below. Thanks as always for stopping by! Also, if you would like to receive more updates about my writing please consider joining my newsletter mailing list by subscribing below.