NOVEL REVIEW: NORWEGIAN WOOD BY HARUKI MURAKAMI
Welcome back to Fadima Mooneira. Today, I would like to share a review of Haruki Murakami’s novel, Norwegian Wood. Now let’s get started. We shall begin with the author’s bio...
ABOUT HARUKI MURAKAMI
Haruki Murakami is a Japanese author. He is a very well-known author in the bookish industry. Murakami was born in Kyoto, Japan on the 12th of January 1949. Murakami grew up in Kobe and then he moved to Tokyo, where he attended Waseda University.
Before Murakami became an author, he ran a small jazz bar business with his wife for seven years. Murakami’s first novel was titled Hear the Wind Sing (HTWS). The novel won the Gunzou Literature Prize for budding writers in 1979. After his success with HTWS, Murakami wrote two sequel novels -Pinball, 1973, and A Wild Sheep Chase, which all together form “The Trilogy of the Rat”(TTOTR).
Besides HTWS and TTOTR, some of Murakami’s novels are Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Norwegian Wood, Dance Dance Dance, South of the Border, West of the Sun, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Sputnik Sweetheart, Kafka on the Shore, After Dark, 1Q84, and Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. Most of Murakami’s novels are listed as bestsellers.
Besides novels, Murakami has also written three short story collections~ The Elephant Vanishes, After the Quake, and Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman. Murakami has also written an illustrated novella, The Strange Library.
ABOUT NORWEGIAN WOOD
Norwegian Wood (NW) is one of Murakami’s most popular novels. The novel was first published in 1987 in the Japanese Language. Two years later, NW was translated into the English language by Alfred Birnbaum. The novel became a worldwide bestseller and it is now listed as an evergreen read.
NW has been translated into 36 different languages, and it has sold over 9.2 million copies in Japan alone. Most book critiques describe NW as the Asian version of The Catcher In The Rye (a classic American literature novel by J.D Salinger).
NW is a novel about coming of age, romance, life, friendship, relationship, and mental health. The story is set in Tokyo, Japan in the 1960’s era and it follows a male protagonist named Toru Watanabe. Toru is also the narrator of the story. He is a Tokyo college student of average ability and a drama major. Unlike most Japanese youth, Toru is more interested in Western culture and American literature.
Toru had a best friend named Kizuki. Kizuki took his own life at the age of 17. Kizuki left his girlfriend, Naoko heartbroken. Toru has a crush on Naoko. Toru and Naoko become close friends after Kizuki’s death.
Naoko is a beautiful but emotionally fragile girl who had experienced so many traumas in her life. Long before Kizuki died, Naoko's older sister committed suicide. The death of her older sister and Kizuki has a lasting effect on Naoko's emotional stability.
On Naoko's 20th birthday, she had sex with Toru. And it was her first time. Naoko was shocked and felt guilty that she lost her virginity to Toru instead of Kizuki. So she left Tokyo and moved to a sanatorium in Kobe. However, they still contact each other by letter. And Toru visits her often at the sanatorium.
After Naoko left Tokyo, Toru meets a beautiful girl named Midori. Midori is everything that Naoko is not. She is confident, outgoing, lively, and adventurous. Later, Toru finds himself attracted to Midori. But at the same time, he is still in love with Naoko. Midori likes Toru too. So Toru has to make a choice between Naoko and Midori.
MY REVIEW OF NORWEGIAN WOOD
I think NW is the most beautiful novel I've read. But it’s also the saddest novel I’ve read this year. The way the storyline and plot evolves is very sad. The story goes sadder and sadder as it reaches the end.
I also see this novel as an eye-opener to life, relationship, friendship, and mental health. Murakami highlighted the mental health problem among Japanese people. Reading NW makes me understand why suicide is forbidden in Islam (my religion). It is because suicide affects those who love us. Like in NW, Naoko was once depressed after her older sister committed suicide. Then she became more depressed when Kizuki committed suicide. These tragedies and traumas also make Naoko committed suicide towards the end of the story. Naoko’s death makes Toru heartbroken too. But luckily Toru bounces back from the tragedy.
Besides that, I also like Murakami’s writing style for this novel. His writing style is very catchy (especially characters dialogue). Murakami's catchy writing style makes it easy for me to visualize the story. It also brings me closer to Toru and other characters.
Overall, I rate this novel 10/10. So far, I believe NW is the best novel I’ve read this year. Since NW is listed as an evergreen read, I would like to recommend my fellow bookworms to read this novel. NW is a novel all bookworms must not miss. NW is the first Murakami novel that I read. Reading NW makes me want to read more of Murakami’s books.
Ok, so this is my review of Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood. Before I end this post, I would like to ask my readers four simple questions…
- Have you guys read Norwegian Wood?
- If yes, what are your opinions of this novel?
- Are you a fan of Haruki Murakami?
- If yes, which Murakami’s work is your favorite?
Ok, that’s all for now. Thank you for reading this review. See you guys again soon.
Fadima Mooneira ^_^
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