I am listening to Norwegian wood as I write this, I could not help myself. This song has been playing on repeat for a while now, precisely since I finished reading the book. This book has also been made into a movie in 2010. I read the translated version by Jay Rubin.
How I came about reading this book:
I had a coupon for crossword bookstore which was letting me buy a book or books for a certain amount of price. This was a few months back when I got this coupon then I went book shopping and I saved the coupon for a bad day. So this one god awful day that I am having I visit crossword and browse through several books. I spend a lot of time thinking about which book to buy or should I buy 2 really in that money, I read the synopsis of over 30 books and then all of a sudden I decide that I want to dive right into a book which I know nothing about. The first book I happen to see was “Norwegian wood” and I just grab it and without even turning it over to read the synopsis or see what genre it was, I buy it. It sat on my shelf for good 2 months and 3 days back; just like that I decided to read it without knowing anything about it.
The story begins with Toru Watanabe, the protagonist, who is having a flashback as he hears the favourite song of his first love Naoko, “Norwegian wood” (yes, this is where the title comes from and it has nothing to do with Norway. It is actually a Beatles song). From the moment of the recall, he goes back to the very beginning of it all, the days he spends with his best friend Kizuki and Naoko who happens to be Kizuki’s girlfriend, then it is all about his student life as a university student in Tokyo amidst all the struggles of having to deal with issues like losing somebody and the feeling of having lost yourself somewhere in the process, holding on to and finding love at the same time, figuring out friendships, and the sexual encounters. During his time in Tokyo he comes across Midori with whom he develops an unlikely friendship.
There are a lot of things going through my mind right now and it is like every thought and word is just jumbled because I don’t where to even start talking about this book, it is one of those overwhelming books that when you finish reading it you are just like wait what? It is over? It feels like you were there in that book and you saw all of that happening and then it is over and you’re a little empty and left to interpret a certain things. Well, it was like that at least for me.
It was not an easy-going and pleasant kind of a read, even though bits and pieces of it were predictable, it still felt like it was taking me on a journey I’d never seen or been on before. The way it is written, it makes you think and ponder over a certain things. I love how the writing was so simple yet so impactful. The reading part of it was just flowing so smoothly unlike my emotions. It was so not easy in that aspect. Murakami knows the exact way on how to put the words together so the reader feels like a part of the story. Everything is described in meticulous details and just comes to life.
Watanabe is the clichéd protagonist types, the one who is lost trying to make sense of things and finding way out of the lost, dealing with things in his own way and trying to make sense of everything. One of the things I really appreciated about his character is how he is always honest about everything. Midori is that kind of person who makes the story her very own every time she makes an appearance, it is as if the room all of a sudden a little louder, the lights shine a little brighter, like she just has this spark or a lively way of talking as compared to anyone else in the novel. Naoko is portrayed as his past he is willing to hold on and Midori his present.
I loved how the story does not sugar coat anything and even the characters in it just say it like it is. It speaks of the struggles of loneliness, coping with death, mental health, and attitude towards sex in a realistic manner. But at the same time I do feel like the sexual encounters were not really contributing or more like adding up to the story, I understand that I am contradicting myself when I say this and talk about how this book deals with the attitude towards sex, but at times it just felt unnecessary. Other than that, I enjoyed reading and by enjoyed I mean it saddened me at times and was super depressing but it the kind that makes you want to keep reading.
Song suggestions for this read:
- Norwegian wood (obviously) by the Beatles
- Where are you now by Alan Walker