Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review: Norwegian Wood


Title: Norwegian Wood
Author: Haruki Murakami
Translated by: Jay Rubin
Copyright © Haruki Murakami 1987
English Translation © Haruki Murakami 2000

I was holding my discount coupon from my bookstore membership and strolling around, searching for something that catches my eye to be my next indulgence. I wanted something a little bit more mature and deep. Then I got across Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami.

My version got a cover that didn't exactly scream dark and mature -- a photograph of a couple face to face in the coldness of winter, yet it did give off that gloomy vibe. I didn't suspect it until I flipped the first chapter. Talking about psychological problems, twisted with social culture and political issues, the overall vibe of gloomy conversations and narrations.... I was not prepared, but it didn't strike me as odd. It would be surprising if this award-winning novel by Murakami was about simple love triangle.

The story itself was more of a slice of life (Norwegian Wood usually called as the writer's autobiography, which Murakami denied). It is fascinating to see how Murakami made the life of Toru interesting, the characters linked to one another not by dramatic encounters, but with rather realistic approach. It feels like we're listening to somebody's honest talk about their life, and realize that everybody's life is interesting and unique.

I couldn't make any connection whatsoever to the quiet main character Toru Watanabe, but I found my self getting fond of the character Midori -- which made me laugh so much throughout the book. A comical character in a gloomy novel: so out of place, yet so fresh. The other characters had this depth into them also, every single of them had their quirkiness and flaws, they also were all twisted in some way. It kind of bothered me how Murakami implemented so much psychological problems into the characters though. 

Murakami gave me a lesson on how to portray Japan's culture in words, which I have tried and failed completely. He also showed me how to really build a character, how to add depth into them. But perhaps, the overall theme was a little bit too mature and too dark for the romantic teenager like myself.

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