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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel Paperback – Sep 1 1998
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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. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
"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.Read more ›
Sure, it's fun to read. The main character is a kind of average-joe underacheiver whose life is thrown into a kind of cartoon-choas. But like free jazz, the virtuoso solos lead nowhere but confusion and . . .
In the end, unanswered questions abound. We never really figure out what the sinister "tendency" is that overcomes the main character's wife and turns his life upside down.
It's got something to do with sex and human brutality - but the plot is never resolved so we have little more than a sketch of a bizarre and twisted tale of modern Japan and the lingering legacy of WWII.
I'd recommend this book to those interested in modern Japan and to fans of literary art who might dig deeper into the book's symbolism.
Most recent customer reviews
I can literally count on one hand the number of novels I haven't been able to finish, and while The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle isn't one of them, it's radiantly clear to me now, after... Read morePublished 4 months ago by kylan
One of my favourites. The book came quick and in brand new quality.Published 8 months ago by Viktor Zhou
Simple yet painfully beautiful . Just when the story hits a lull it picks up again . The interweave of carachters development makes it hard to put this book down . Read morePublished 9 months ago by Annik Scholz
Disapointed with lack of depth and general hype overall. Could have used less pages and more usefull contentPublished 10 months ago by Hooman
It took me quite a while to finish this book, not because it isn't good, but because it's long and complex, and I approached it with my usual read-a-few-pages-before-bedtime style. Read morePublished 15 months ago by cellomerl
Having no idea about the book or the author when it was recommended to me, I forever since have feared phone calls when cooking pasta. Read morePublished on Sept. 3 2013 by SogeumHoochoo
Great book, lovingly used and getting some more love now! Arrived quickly with no problems at all. Very nice indeed.Published on March 24 2013 by Donna Outtrim