in Review

Language: English
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780099448792
Pages: 607
Price: Rs 450

Last year, when I decided to give Murakami a try, the curiousness was to find out why Murakami is what Murakami is. I have read a lot of writers’ works, but never did anyone create as much positive hype and adulation as Haruki managed to do over time. His readers are timeless and ageless – 8 to 80.

The next day morning, before going to office, I opened Flipkart in a tab in my browser, and before I could sulk upon the dent the pricing could cause to my otherwise shallow pocket, I had already ordered three Murakami pieces – Norwegian Wood, Kafka on the shore and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.

While Norwegian Wood made Murakami what he is what he is now, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle cemented his position up among the legends. Ask any voracious reader, and chances are that Kafka on the shore will be among his top three reads of all times.

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is a 607 pages’ book – huge in its own rights – with numerous plots sub-plotting themselves even before you realize and again merging themselves to the main plot – this time also even before you realize. The major characters are mostly many people and one cat. Worth mentioning here is the poor feline, omnipresent throughout the book, holds a central role in the book. It is as if everything that happened throughout the book in the protagonist’s lives happened just because of the disappearance and the reappearance of the cat.

As most reviewers have agreed upon in many times in the past, Murakami’s writing is surreal, containing characters that are unreal and imaginary and at the same time, very grounded to reality. Writing about the Japanese youth culture in Norwegian Wood gave him immense popularity in Japan. Unable to handle all the adulation, he left for the US and stayed there for a year. Haruki’s best writings have come out when he writes about the grinds of daily lives and the harsh reality of one’s existence. Many of his characters are surreal at times, but they never feel like a Batman or a Superman who can do something which an ordinary person can not. If you have loved someone in a certain yet weird way, chances are that Haruki has already written about someone like you in one of his works.

It starts with a jobless protagonist and his wife in a small family. With a cat as the third member, they were a happy couple and were living lives in their own conditions. One fine morning, he cat disappeared. The wife left the husband after few days. The protagonist’s search for his wife is the major plot around which all the characters are woven in a perfect canvas. In the way, readers get to meet the famous politician in the wife’s brother, the mind readers in a weird twin sister, the loner teenaged girl, the fashion designer and her perfect son who can’t speak, the lieutenant who survived many wars and a well without water. All the characters have mighty presence throughout the book, even the well without water.

The Wind-up bird, in The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, comes to the fore at the most crucial junctions in the story – once while it attracts the protagonist to an empty house with a disastrous history, the other time, it reaches the ears of an introvert young soldier.

The wind up bird went on crying, but no one else could hear its call

Alike his other books, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle talks about trivialities of human relationships, listening to jazz, cooking, cats, mild indications to extra marital affairs and weird ways of reaching on to someone else. It’s philosophical and contains textured layers of plots weaving and unweaving themselves around the central character Toru Okada. It seems Murakami writes poetry and give them the look of structured English prose in his novels. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is not different that way.

This is a highly recommended book. I have never stopped reading Murakami since that fateful day.

Rating: 9/10

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