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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel Paperback – Sep 1 1998

4.4 out of 5 stars 191 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage International Ed edition (Sept. 1 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679775439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679775430
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 3.5 x 20.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 191 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #10,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle was my first Murakami, and through the first half of the book I had every reason to be impressed and excited by its promise of a rewarding and thought-provoking read. Indeed, in the early going I was mesmerized by the multifarious cast of quirky characters and the somewhat kooky plot lines, and additionally, the unbalanced mood and the underlying tension kept me eagerly focused towards the explanations and resolutions which were surely coming. I was willing, if not thrilled to leave the main storyline time after time to read and absorb the lengthy historical chapters, secure in the knowledge that by book's end, the interconnectedness of it all would be made abundantly clear. However, the second half of this book left me far more disappointed than the first had gotten me interested. Let's get this out of the way first so there is no misunderstanding: Murakami is, without a doubt, a gifted and interesting storyteller with a unique voice and an engagingly oblique manner of limning his plot. But his technical skills and economical prose style notwithstanding, he is either the laziest or most arrogant author I've ever come across. After causing us to feel so strongly about the predicaments and machinations of so many characters, and making us wonder about the resolution of and connection between so many story lines, and schooling us in a good dose of Japanese, Manchurian and Mongolese history, and escorting us through a variety of worlds, netherworlds, cyberworlds, dimensions, dreamscapes and cityscapes, we are left dangling in mid-air. Absolutely nothing we are interested in having revealed to us is ever explained or made clear. And 600 pages of unresolved set-ups is no small matter.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
We can all marvel at the sheer creativity Marakami wields in this book. But be warned, all ye fans of straightforward fiction.
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.
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