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NORWEGIAN WOOD: Fiction
AUTHOR: Haruki Murakami
BEST SELLERS(S): 1Q84 (Read the Review of Book 1 by Vivek Tejuja here), Kafka on the Shore, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, Dance Dance Dance, The Elephant Vanishes, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and many more. Murakami has been praised by The Guardian as "among the world's greatest living novelists" for his works and achievements.
When he hears her favorite Beatles song, Toru Watanabe recalls his first love, Naoko, the girlfriend of his best friend Kizuki. Immediately he is transported back almost twenty years to his student days in Tokyo, adrift in a world of uneasy friendships, casual sex, passion, loss and desire - to a time when an impetuous young woman called Midori marches into his life and he has to choose between the future and the past.
'Where was I now?'
Gripping the receiver, I raised my head and turned to see what lay beyond the phone box. Where was I now? I had no idea. No idea at all. Where was this place? All that flashed into my eyes were the countless shapes of people walking by to nowhere. Again and again I called out for Midori from the dead centre of this place that was no place.
MSM Speaks: This was my first Murakami novel, recommended by a dear friend. I've read Japanese stuff before,but was a bit intimidated with the whole reputation as a novelist that Murakami has. It was a tough task to read the book as I had too many mental blocks and inhibitions. However, there was a moment when I let go of all the shackles and then, reading became an experience. I cannot forget the impression his words left on me.
It is about the student life of Toru Watanabe, who is someone, hovering around the edges of an event and never in the middle of it, but when Naoko, the girlfriend of his dead best friend comes to his life, his feelings are in a mess. She is fragile and he is her only support. Eventually, Toru comes to term with Naoko's presence around him, like breathing. He meets different people during his stay in Tokyo, sleeps around with girls he doesn't remember the next day, seeking something that he knows, is forbidden but which only Naoko can give him.
Life seems to be stuck, when over enthusiastic and curios girl, Midori walks right into his life without any preamble. Meanwhile, Naoko has abandoned the civilization and is under treatment, when Toru meets her and realizes that she loves him as well. But eventually, Toru also wants the ever cheerful, daring and brave Midori, to color his gray, dull life.
Murakami puts the reader in a constant swing of emotions which appear simplistic but are far more complicated. The mind of a young man and the people he meets, makes the reader feel like an observer. There were times in the book, when I did not understand where the writer intended the protagonist to go. But suddenly the pace gets fast and I am unable to keep the book down. It's needless to say, I felt like I lost a part of me when the book finished. A serious undertone but the superficiality of a young life - Norwegian Wood, worth a million reads! MSM recommends!
My rating: 5/5 *Brilliant Read*
Norwegian Wood@ Vintage Books 2010
flipkart price: 269/-INR