I love Murakami so much that Kafka on the Shore is in my all time top ten. Norwegian Wood seems to be one of his lesser known books. I had heard very little about it before I started to read, but had been warned that it would be depressing.
Norwegian Wood is primarily set in a Japanese University during the 1960s. It is a coming of age novel that has a strong resemblance to The Bell Jar. In both novels the issue of suicide is prominent, but Norwegian Wood is slightly darker.
The story focuses on Toru, who has a complex, but touching relationship with Naoko, the girlfriend of his best friend, Kizuki, who tragically committed suicide.
People looking for Murakami’s amazing imaginative narrative may be disappointed by this book, as it is a straight, simple story, that many people speculate as being largly autobiographical. As with The Bell Jar, I didn’t find it as depressing as I expected – I was never moved to tears, and I felt that the novel focused on hope, rather than tragedy.
Murakami’s skill for character development is evident, and I found it very easy to empathise with Toru’s difficult situation. I loved the complexity of the emotion present in this book – it more than made up for the simplicity of the story.
Murakami’s wisdom is scattered throughout the book. One quote that particularly stood out for me was:
Overall, I felt that this was a well written book, but I prefer the uniqueness of Murakamis’s more imaginative books.
What did you think of Norwegian Wood?
Which is your favourite Murakami book?