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Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Audio CD – Audiobook, Sep 1 2006


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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Naxos Audio Books; Unabridged edition (Sept. 1 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9626344180
  • ISBN-13: 978-9626344187
  • Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 13.3 x 5.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 635 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (185 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,830,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

Bad things come in threes for Toru Okada. He loses his job, his cat disappears, and then his wife fails to return from work. His search for his wife (and his cat) introduces him to a bizarre collection of characters, including two psychic sisters, a possibly unbalanced teenager, an old soldier who witnessed the massacres on the Chinese mainland at the beginning of the Second World War, and a very shady politician.

Haruki Murakami is a master of subtly disturbing prose. Mundane events throb with menace, while the bizarre is accepted without comment. Meaning always seems to be just out of reach, for the reader as well as for the characters, yet one is drawn inexorably into a mystery that may have no solution. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is an extended meditation on themes that appear throughout Murakami's earlier work. The tropes of popular culture, movies, music, detective stories, combine to create a work that explores both the surface and the hidden depths of Japanese society at the end of the 20th century.

If it were possible to isolate one theme in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, that theme would be responsibility. The atrocities committed by the Japanese army in China keep rising to the surface like a repressed memory, and Toru Okada himself is compelled by events to take responsibility for his actions and struggle with his essentially passive nature. If Toru is supposed to be a Japanese Everyman, steeped as he is in Western popular culture and ignorant of the secret history of his own nation, this novel paints a bleak picture. Like the winding up of the titular bird, Murakami slowly twists the gossamer threads of his story into something of considerable weight. --Simon Leake --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Amazingly long, incredibly pricey, wildly experimental, often confusing but never boring, Murakami's most famous novel has been brought to audio life with extreme dedication: by Naxos, a company that regularly wins prizes, and by a reader with an uncommon combination of skills. Degas is already a Murakami veteran, having read the audio version of A Wild Sheep Chase (Naxos), and has worked on radio, stage and even cartoon voice (including Mr. Bean). He catches the constantly changing mental landscape of Murakami's fertile imagination—which moves from detective story to explicit sexual fantasy, heartbreaking Japanese WWII historical flashback, everyday details of married life (cooking, shopping and pet care) and even the occasional burst of satiric humor. Degas treats it all with the clarity and calmness of a very deep, very still pool. Certainly not for everyone's taste or budget, but anyone interested in this important author will find something to enlighten them. Available as a Vintage paperback (Reviews, Aug. 18. 1997). (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By S. Becker on April 7 2004
Format: Paperback
I should start by saying that I usually like bizarre fiction. Well, "Wind-up Bird Chronicle" is certainly that. A "regular Joe" for the main character, surrounded by the weird and inexplicable - psychic sisters named after islands, a healer and her mute son (named after spices), a well with no water in it, and an alternative reality set in a hotel.
The beginning of the book sucks you in, written in a crisp, modern style, with no high-brow literary waffle. Very quickly you realise that something strange is happening to our "normal" protagonist, Toru Okada. The events don't seem to be connected in any way, but they are portrayed as clues, and you are batting for Toru to figure them out. The random, bizarre happenings make you excited, curious, desperate to read on.
So then you read on. And on. More strange characters and events get introduced. There are large forays into the Japanese occupation of Manchuria before WWII and gruesome stories of violence there. But still, you think (or rather hope, by now) that this will all be explained. Somehow. But alas, it isn't. And you begin to suspect that many of the things you thought were significant "clues", were actually just there to increase the "weird and quirky" factor.
At the end, several important people and occurances had just disappeared out of the novel (Malto and Creta Kano?), or were left hanging without explanation or resolve. I don't want the meaning of everything spelled out to me, I'm happy to use my imagination to figure some things out. But this book didn't even leave me with a skeleton on which to build my thoughts at the end. Only one of the themes (good vs. evil - how original) was resolved to my satisfaction.
Read Murakami's book for an introduction to his style, read it if the words "Japanese" and "bizarre" in combination sound good. But don't expect to finish it feeling contented.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By catfightshiner28 on March 24 2004
Format: Paperback
I really liked the book but it's so frustrating with all the loose ends. It's like a David Lynch movie, and I feel like I wasn't equipped with the proper skills to thoroughly interpet the symbolism and meaning of the book. Someone perfectly summed up all the dissatisfing points that I would like more clarification on:
"Despite the fact that I enjoyed reading this novel very much and think very highly of it, I do feel somewhat unsatisfied with a number of plot elements in the intertwining stories that I think were not properly explained.
1.) Regarding the nature of Noboru Wataya's dark power, which Kumiko and her sister were also tangled up with: It seems to me Noboru Wataya is a sort of black magician who has learned to harness this innate ability, and yet it is hinted at that the entire Wataya bloodline is somehow affected by this evil power. This evil entity is central to the plotline (It was in some way responsible for Kumiko's horrifying streak of extramarital [affairs] which in turn triggered her disappearance), yet the phenomenon surrounding it is kept extremely vague. This mysterious something was almost certainly behind Noboru Wataya's defilement of both Kumiko's sister and Creta Kano, but as for the purpose for these defilements we are kept in the dark. When Toru finally does battle with this evil entity, it still is kept extremely vague and we never get to see it. I found myself wishing Toru would ignore Kumiko's requests and turn the flashlight on it, just for curiosity's sake.
2.) Regarding the story of the young boy who I assume is Cinnamon who hears the wind up bird and then proceeds to witness two shady looking characters burying a certain something on his property.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. Peterson on Aug. 19 2000
Format: Paperback
When I was 12, Madeleine L'Engle's fantasy, "A Wrinkle in Time," effected me in a way no other book did - bridging the gap between childhood stories and grown-up novels. Like "A Wrinkle in Time" the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a fantastic tale in which a certain amount of the story occurs in places that are not of this world. We are given to suspect that some of these places might be in the protagonist's mind, or, they might not be. Set in Tokyo, this is the story of a young married man named Toru Okada whose cat and wife both disappear (under different circumstances). The reader follows Toru as he searches for them both (as well as his search for "self"), and in the process encounters oddly "re"named mystics, an endearing if somewhat depressed teenage neighbor girl, an old war veteran with horrible memories from Japan's engagements in Manchuria, and a megalomaniacal brother-in-law (by far the scariest character in anything I've read in a long time). The tale gripped me and was a great read. Murakami does fantastic things with both the physical and psychological details and has a way of drawing in the reader to feel (s)he is in Toru's head.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By G. B. Talovich on April 15 2004
Format: Paperback
Other reviewers have summarized the plot very well, so I will leave that out, and keep my comments short. This book reads like a No drama: full of ritualized, stylized drama hidden behind masks. In the end, you never really get inside the characters' lives; a successful novel draws you in, whether you want in or not. Partly, this is characteristic of Japan, circles within circles, barriers within barriers, but partly, I think the author is striving too hard for effect.
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