REVIEW // Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Published: 1987

My Edition: Here

Rating: 3/5

When going in to Murakami’s most well-known work, I was prepared for some overwhelmingly beautiful prose and intricate insights into the characters that inhabit his magical realism world. Having read two of his works before – The Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage and The Strange Library – I am familiar with the ferociously delicate way he handles his subject matter, capturing the attention of readers both individually and globally.

Norwegian Wood portrays a seemingly normal Japanese man – Watanabe – recalling his early twenties – when he was studying, falling in love, and grieving the loss of his best friend, even three years on. He finds himself torn between the past and his future, as he visits an old crush while she is “institutionalized” and simultaneously meets an intriguing woman in History of Theatre class. Torn between two vastly different loves, he observes the world around him in order to decide how he will continue onward towards a life that is not constantly living in the past.

As usual,  Murakami’s writing in Norwegian Wood is fluid and captivating. I was always waiting for the next few minutes I could pick up this novel and immerse myself back into his world. The way Murakami manages to create such a compelling plot with these detailed characters, yet keeps all hints to himself about the direction the text will take, never fails to astound me. One of my favourite aspects of a book is when I don’t know how it’s going to end – as this always seems to bring me back to the book. I love intrigue!

I have to say that even though the characters in Norwegian Wood aren’t particularly interesting, they are perfectly normal in the way that they have both faults and strengths, which for me, makes for a relatable reading experience within an unrelatable story.

However, one thing that I seem to always forget about Murakami that kind of puts me off is his over-elaborated sex scenes. I am by no means against a sex scene or three (see my favourite series, Outlander), but I found the sheer amount of them and the repetition to be a bit much. There comes a point where even I have had enough.

Norwegian Wood is captivating, fluid, and incredibly relatable – earning its spot on so many reader’s “favourites” list.


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