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Written by Murakami in 1987, Norwegian Wood is set in 1968-1970s Japan. The title is taken from Beatels Track ‘Norwegian Wood’ which is favourite song of one of the characters. The edition that I read included an introduction by Jay Rubin where he mentioned that Norwegian Wood is the only book read by all Japanese! It marks the early days of Murakami’s writing career and made him very famous!

Toru Watanabe, narrator and the male protagonist of the book reminisces about his university days when he was 20ish! Lots of references all over about being 20. He falls in love with two very different girls, some of it overlapping! Its Toru’s life’s two years revolving around three main female characters! Conventionally, its full of young age romance, depression, anxieties, weirdness and other issues! The characters have their own stories told in great detail, so you get to know all of them! I did try to like few characters but then they would do something to make me feel otherwise! They are too confused in their thoughts, actions and infatuations, all of them!   Half-way through it was kind of sad and sometimes depressing. Still ordinary words in immersed in Murakami magic makes it a beautiful work! Speaks my love for Murakami 🙂

The characters have their own stories told in great detail, so you get to know all of them  well! I did try to like few characters but then they would do something to make me feel otherwise! They are too confused in their thoughts, actions and infatuations, all of them!   Half-way through it was kind of sad and sometimes depressing. Still ordinary words in immersed in Murakami magic makes it a beautiful work! There are some very good quotable one -liners! Speaks my love for Murakami 🙂

Norwegian Wood often ends up being  the first Murakami read for most people just because of its popularity! THAT would be a big mistake IMHO. Reason? This is far, very far, from the ‘Murakami’ factor and style as we know today. You will not get a taste of Murakami if you pick this one as the first read!

As for me, I have read so much better from Murakami’s pen. It’s a bit different from other books, more plain but still worth a read.

Some quotes:

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”

“What happens when people open their hearts?” “They get better.”

“Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Only assholes do that.”

“But who can say what’s best? That’s why you need to grab whatever chance you have of happiness where you find it, and not worry about other people too much. My experience tells me that we get no more than two or three such chances in a life time, and if we let them go, we regret it for the rest of our lives.”

“Despite your best efforts, people are going to be hurt when it’s time for them to be hurt.”

“What makes us the most normal is knowing that we’re not normal.”

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