Toru Okada's cat has disappeared.
His wife is growing more distant every day.
Then there are the increasingly explicit telephone calls he has recently been receiving.
As this compelling story unfolds, the tidy suburban realities of Okada's vague and blameless life, spent cooking, reading, listening to jazz and opera and drinking beer at the kitchen table, are turned inside out, and he embarks on a bizarre journey, guided (however obscurely) by a succession of characters, each with a tale to tell.
*Murakami's new book Novelist as a Vocation is available now*
'Visionary...a bold and generous book' New York Times
'Murakami weaves textured layers of reality into a shot-silk garment of deceptive beauty' Independent on Sunday
'Deeply philosophical and teasingly perplexing, it is impossible to put down' Daily Telegraph
'Mesmerising, surreal, this really is the work of a true original' The Times
After his wife disappears, unemployed 30-year-old paralegal Toru Okada gets embroiled in a surreal, sprawling drama--part detective story, part history lesson, part metaphysical speculation, part satire--that marks Japanese novelist Murakami's (Dance Dance Dance) most ambitious work to date. As Okada searches for his wife (in an abandoned lot near his home, and in a city park), he encounters characters who are dream-like projections of his own muted fears and desires--among them, a precocious, death-obsessed, 16-year-old neighbor and Okada's brother-in-law, a sinister politician. Peculiar events and strange coincidences abound. A mysterious woman calls Okada regularly, insisting on phone sex. A mystical experience at the bottom of a dry well leaves him with a blue stain on his cheek. Although Okada seems to be sleepwalking through his adventures, new acquaintances feel compelled to share their life stories with him and offer wild tales of violence and passion, tales that contrast strongly with the numbness that settles like a DeLillo-esque cloud over the novel's events (one character, witness to gruesome wartime torture, speaks of having "burned up the very core of my life"). As Okada discovers, these disparate characters are linked by the memory of the 1939 massacre of Japanese troops by Soviet tanks at Nomonhan on the Manchurian border, and this massacre comes to symbolize the senseless violence and political evils, past and present, that haunt Japan in the second half of the 20th century. Ingeniously, Murakami links history to a detective story that uses a mannered realism and metaphysical speculation to catapult the narrator into the surreal place where mysteries are solved and evil is confronted.
I loved this book. Why did I give it 5 stars? Why do I feel compelled to write my first review?
Well- it's a great story for a start. Interlaced with this story is a gripping educational tale from Japan's history. However the magic lies underneath these two tales - Murakami introduces the reader to some spiritual concepts that are a way of life for many Japanese. He achieves this in such a way that without lectures or any particular religious references, you are left with an understanding how a different approach to life may give you many benefits for years to come.
For a book to have achieved all of that, I think it deserves 5 stars and I wrote this review in the hope that if just one person picks this up and experiences the benefits of the hidden spiritual insights, then it has been worthwhile.
The wind up bird chronicle
This book (as with 1Q84) made me question the nature of reality. The way Murakami draws you into a seemingly normal narrative and then makes you see the world through a new set of eyes is awe inspiring. It's the kind of book I wish I could delete from my memory so that I could discover it all over again. Now I've finished there is a void, what can I possibly read next that could compare.....
The Wind Up Bird Chronicles
Stunning. One of the best books I have ever read and my favourite Murakami book. Very cleverly written, it draws you in and you don't want to put it down. Would definitely recommend this book.