Haruki Murakami, Author
Coming of age, Genre
How did I first come across Murakami’s work?
– I first came across his name and works when I started to follow this really cute guy on Twitter. I noticed one day that he posted a cool quote from one of Murakami’s novels and I was like…Whoa, who is this guy? I can’t recall the quote but I do remember researching everything about Murakami and his novels. My hope was to read one of his works so that I can have a legitimate reason to correspond with the cute guy.
What is my favorite Murakami book?
– My favorite Murakami book is Norwegian Wood. It’s the first and only book that I have finished thus far. Even though, I asked around to see what book I should start with first, I picked Norwegian Wood because I read that this is a style he is not known for. The responses I was receiving, were more geared towards The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. I decided on Norwegian Wood because it sounded different than his normal style and I really wanted to see the movie version. On a side note, I always read a book first and then see the film.
What makes his work different from that of Western authors or other Japanese authors that I’ve have read?
– Murakami is different. I like different. He’s the first author where his story created a deep connection of a character that I perceived as weak but whose sorrows I came to understand. With western authors, I’ve always loved reading stories about women breaking barriers and being the hero. This is the first time, in along time, where a book has caught me off guard, emotionally.
Have you visited any of the places mentioned in his novels or stories? Is there anywhere in the US that you would regard as significant (particularly given that he lived in New Jersey)?
– I have never visited any of the places mentioned in Norwegian Wood. I lived in the New Jersey area for about 2 years (graduate school) and I’ve only visited Princeton, NJ briefly. So yes, I’d love to come back and explore the university and areas associated with Murakami. Concerning Japan, I’d like to visit the Sanatorium area where Naoko and Reiko resided. Their perceptions made the area sound so pictoresque and peaceful. I like places that are not heavily populated. Maybe it’s because I come from a small town.
My Review on Norwegian Wood:
In my eyes, the simple sumation that I took is just a story about a weird love triangle. For me, Murakami’s novel became an allegorically powerful exploration of the human mentality and the difficult notions of love and death.
Set in 1960’s Japan, Norwegian Wood tells the story of one Toru Watanabe, a college student living away from home for the first time after the suicide of his best friend from High School. The novel relates the perspectives of his two lovers; Naoko, the troubled girlfriend of his dead best friend, and Midori, an independent student with a wild streak that he can’t stay away from.
Toru, Naoko, and Midori all have very different views on life. Through Murakami’s writing, I got to know each of them on a deeply personal level and began to ponder about my own questions of life, love and death. Norwegian Wood is beautiful in that it depicts love in a way that’s not always pretty, but honest. I can’t wait to read the rest of his novel!
In addition, director Anh Hung Tran filmed an adaptation of Norwegian Wood. I loved the film and highly recommend seeing it. Check out the trailer: