Sunday, January 14, 2007

Norwegian Wood , Murakami


Don’t be alarmed, those who see me daily, if I only wear green next month. Or red. Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, published in 1987, brought Murakami sensational recognition in Japan. Released in two parts, one with a red cover, and the other green, fans demonstrated their attachment to a particular part by donning a colored shirt. Such was the power of the book; capturing the generational pulse of young fans throughout the country. Norwegian Wood was enthralling in its entirety. I’m sharing my appreciation with the reader to circumvent a Christmas-tree appearance.

Intensity appears to be innate in the Japanese cultural psyche and Murakami taps into this national trait. This beautiful novel of ‘love with complications’ explores the experience of the main character Watanabe as a young man. Watanabe is drawn into a triangular relationship with a charismatic boy Kizuki, and the striking young woman Naoko. The relationship benefits the three, giving them beatitude. However, with the reminder that ‘death is living’ a debt for this happiness must be paid. Watanabe is forced to deal with his own issues, whilst offering the support to the psychologically unsettled Naoko. The obstacles inherent in their situation test their love and understanding. Watanabe is forced to deal with the pain of loneliness, the vulnerability in bringing himself to love someone, and the pain of letting go.

Watanabe, a self-professed ordinary guy, is endearing because of his understated originality, which is tempered by moderation. A drama student, who enters the world of theatre and Euripides on a whim, draws people in with his charisma and self-possession. Meeting with the quirky, the detached and the needy, Watanabe is led to have both profound experiences and erotic encounters. Unlike many of Murakami's works, this novel does not have undercurrents of the surreal. The streak of passion that riddles Norwegian Wood will reverberate in the recesses of the reader’s memory long after the book is finished.

8 comments:

nessie said...

I just got his new book Kafka on the Shore for my birthday. I am to be reading this for my TBR challenge however I hope that before I get to it I can read some of his earlier stuff. I do enjoy - at least for authors that I know I will read more then one book on - to read their works in relative order. You can critic the progression...

The only author that has been really hard with doing is Jane Austen. The publication date does not coincide with the order.

iliana said...

What an interesting bit of trivia! I hadn't heard about that. I read Norwegian Wood several years ago and loved it. I've only read a couple of his books but definitely want to read more.

fei said...

I never read Murakami in English, but I read most of his work which translated into chinese few years ago and like them.

Maybe it's about time to re-read his work. but again, time, sigh...

btw, thanks for stopping by.

be_zen8 said...

This is my absolute favourite book. I think its just beautiful.

be_zen8 said...

Also, I wondered where you were from?

I am an English/Education undergrad in my last year of uni in Sydney!

acquisitionist said...

Nessie, definitely try to get to some of Murakami's earlier works. Some people can instantly immerse themselves in the quirky underworld of Murakami whereas others need to ease into it. Either way- Murakami is fun! Kafka On the Shore, whilst not my favourite had alot of memorable moments. I loved the mysterious library in it. I love your idea of critiquing the progression of works by a favourite author. Unfortunately, my reading has been all over the place.

fei and iliana, Murakami is great. There's a new book out, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman , a collection of short stories at that looks interesting.

be_zen8 I envy that you're in your final year. I'm over in WA and going into my first year of ed. I've done the bulk of my arts degree, but decided to change out of a combined law/arts into Ed. What fun!

Bybee said...

I love the story about Norwegian Wood fans dressing in either red or green, according to their preference. Americans would never do anything en masse so cutely literary!

If I read any more Murikami, NW will be the novel I'll try.

acquisitionist said...

bybee, it just shows how passionate some of the harcore fans were. very cute indeed.