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A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel Paperback – Apr 9 2002

4.3 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 9 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037571894X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375718946
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.8 x 20.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 281 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #17,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Immensely popular in Japan, the author's first novel to be published here is a comic combination of disparate styles: a mock-hardboiled mystery, a metaphysical speculation and an ironic first-person account of an impossible quest. The narrator is a modern Japanese yuppie: divorced, in a mildly exciting relationship and a much less exciting job as an ad copywriter, he lives unexceptionally until a photograph throws his life into chaos. The snapshot, which he uses to illustrate a newsletter, shows a field of sheep with one unique crossbreed, and the picture is special enough to have attracted the attention of both the nomadic friend who sent it to him and a right-wing Mr. Big who, moribund, wants the source found before he dies. The Boss's henchman, a sleek, scary majordomo, gives the narrator one month to track it down, and the story that ensues is a postmodern detective novel in which dreams, hallucinations and a wild imagination are more important than actual clues. With the help of a fluid, slangy translation, Murakami emerges as a wholly original talent. $30,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This novel, the American debut of a popular contemporary Japanese writer, will have a familiar ring to Western ears. The narrative moves adroitly through mystery, fable, pensive realism, and modernist absurdity to tell the tale--at least on the surface--of a Japanese man caught up in a puzzling quest for a somewhat mystical sheep. The spare style echoes Raymond Carver, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler, with matter-of-fact absurdities reminiscent of John Irving and, in less inspired moments, Tom Robbins. While the climax of the story is somewhat unrewarding, many readers will enjoy being pulled along by the playful and engaging style and fluid structure. Interesting as an example of current Japanese writing and as an unusually hip and irreverent look at contemporary Japanese society, this would be a nice addition to larger fiction collections.
- Mark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll., N.Y.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I like to think of there being two very different kinds of novels: ones about characters, and ones about events. Some try to tell a story of something that happened, some try to tell a story about the people that fill up this world.
Of these two, the work of Haruki Murakami is definately character driven. The entier point of his books, actualy, tends to be the people in them, looking for eachother, separating and reconnecting, beeing twisted together in the braids of fate.
Some people, (esspecialy those who prefer the events-driven novels) may be frustrated with this book, because for much of it, very little in the way of events happen, and when events do happen, they are so strange and outlandish that one is half tempted to ignore them as tall tales fabricated by the characters to pull at our collective legs.
Thus, if a reader is of the right mindset, one can discount the plot and events entierely as some bizzaro-world never-never-land hallucinations, and cut straight to the jewels of the book: Murakami's ecstatoc observations about people, places, and things that are normaly so mundane in our life that we just over look them. By brining these banal things under such intense scrutiny he presents a world more fantastic then reality, more concrete than fantasy, and reminescent only of the way you must have looked at things as a child, where a bug in a jar was as fascinating as a plasma screen TV.
I will tentatively outright recomend Murakami to anyone, however, I will attach to that recomendation a warning, that you shouldn't be surprised (or take it personaly) if you don't like it.
To really appreciate his work on a personal level you have to be cut of the same cloth as a mad scientist, a Buddha, or Humphrey Bogart, although which one - I'm not yet sure.
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Format: Paperback
What is power? What is life? What is living? Murakami explores all those questions in a hauntingly beautiful and absurdist tale of an everyman on a hunt, then a quest, to find a curiously marked sheep with mysterious powers. Reveling in his mundane life, the protagonist and un-named author reflects the sterilie modern life: our daily routines are but anesthesias against the encroaching dangers of a truly lived life. In his own words, the narrator searches for boredom instead of trying to escape it. Then the sheep spector appears, and begins to wreck his carefully constructed persona -- beginning to pump life into what before had only been shadows of emotions (e.g. J's bar, a dried beach)

This is a great leap down the rabbit hole and back -- and upon coming back, a sense of melancholic affirmation will linger with you beyond the finished words.
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Format: Hardcover
I don't know if sheep ever chase their tails the way dogs do, but if this novel were a sheep, that's what it would do. "A Wild Sheep Chase" is the second book by Murakami that I've read and, while his style is very enjoyable (as translated by Alfred Birnbaum), the meaning of this tale eludes me. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the book but the ending was a bit of a letdown. From pathos to bathos. There is a certain amount of tongue-in-cheek humour in the novel as well and also the fun of a good mystery, but Murakami seems to have lost his way towards the end of the story which is a shame.

"A Wild Sheep Chase" was written early in his literary career and it shows hints of what Murakami would produce with "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" right down to the protagonist wearing worn tennis shoes, having a cat with a crooked tail and breaking up with his wife. However, "A Wild Sheep Chase" lacks the sense of wonderment found in "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle"; it's a good book, but not a great book. Still, if you ever find yourself on a train headed to the middle of nowhere in search of you're-not-sure-what and need something good to read...
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Format: Paperback
This was a curious book... Murakami paints a mildly depressing and self-depreciatingly witty portrait of a man, detached and unconcerned, living a wholly mediocre life. That life is turned upside down by a bizarre series of events that don't seem to phase this lack-luster protagonist, who claims he hasn't cried since he was a child. Enter the makings of a potentially interesting adventure, shot down by the ennui-ridden monologue of a mostly uninteresting man.
Alright; I get the themes, I get the quasi-morality-tale for the unenthused twenty-somethings of a collectivist Japan, I get the clash between tradition and the desire for advancement... but I still felt that the story fell flat, dragged down by the entirely bland and quality-less lead character. I couldn't bring myself to care for a character who doesn't care for himself enough to care about anything. Fortunately, there are a handful of interesting secondary characters who redeem this novel a little bit, and whose eventual abandonment of the boring protagonist brought sense to back to the dynamics. Sadly, they couldn't bring much sense back to the intended tale of morality.

Overall: bland despite its quirk, uneven despite its determined focus on a meaning, and often hard to follow despite its straightforward adventure plot. It was intellectually intriguing in the paradoxical sense, but I was not too impressed.
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