Book: Norwegian Wood

Norwegian Wood
The most beautiful of many available covers

Being 17 with serene clarity.
389 pages, ★★★★★

Norwegian Wood summarises adolescence with a clarity that no 17-year-old possesses. We follow Protagonist Tora Wantanbe and his closest friends as they feel love, unrequited love, sex, death, promiscuity, mental illness and heartbreak, with naïvety and bewilderment, for the first time. Like these characters, I saw all of the above, and can testify that at 17, that’s a lot to take in.

I had no idea what was going on when I was 17. At least these characters at least seem to understand it all a bit better than I did. Having their hot-headed stories told by a highly articulate adult (Murakami) makes all their teenage shenanigans seem smooth, painless and futile. Of course, it certainly didn’t seem that way at the time.

As always with Haruki Murakami, the novel has beautiful sex scenes. Unlike The Time Traveler’s Wife or Fifty Shades of Grey, whose ugly sex scenes tarnish the whole book, I find the sex in Murakami’s books very agreeable.

Here’s the character map I made for this simple novel:

Norwegian Wood Character Map
Click to enlarge.

It’s a gripping book and I read it all in one sitting. Starting with 1Q84, I think I’ve discovered my first favourite author. I absolutely love Murakami’s writing! ★★★★★

3 thoughts on “Book: Norwegian Wood

  1. I’ve just suggested your character map (wit your name and blog mentioned!) to my Tutor at Edge Hill University UK. I think it’ll be a big help🙂

    I love Murakami, since discovering his work on my course. I haven’t read much yet, but I’m looking to for the future. Can you suggest any for my next read? =]

    This is one of his ‘different’ novels, is it not? Less spernatural, accoridng to the translators notes.

    If you want to check out my blog, its: artzonbooks.wordpress.com ^_^

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    1. Go for Murakami’s novels, not his collections of short stories. The novels are usually about characters (usually lovers) slowly coming together against all odds, then meeting in a miracle of coincidences at the end. I love the suspense. His short stories are more like surreal sketches, or Dalí paintings, with description but no real plot.

      1Q84 is a classic. I strongly recommend it. Unlike some other trilogies, read all three books.

      South of the Border, West of the Sun is good, too. It’s an account of a boy growing up and exploring love and sex but never really ‘getting it’.

      After Dark describes the events of one tense night from the perspective of an imaginary, all-seeing camera. It feels like the PS4 game, Watch Dogs (find the trailer on YouTube). Reading this book, we know everything about everyone—but nobody else in the story really has any clue. I love the tension and suspense in this book, and it all gets resolved quickly by the end.

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