The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Reviewed by John Glover, Reference Librarian for the Humanities
Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a dreamy, introspective novel of 20th century Japan. Multiple plotlines compete in the book, occurring in different times and places, and to highlight one at the expense of another would be a shame. Contents include missing cats, Japanese war crimes in Manchuria, toupee manufacture, Soviet gulags, psychic prostitution, and the troubled marriage of Toru and Kumiko Okada. The novel's tone is reminiscent of both Raymond Carver and Raymond Chandler, which is understandable, given Murakami's affection for both. Much of the novel is set in a 1980s Japan at odds with many depictions of the country at the time, eliding the endless workdays of salarymen and focusing instead on the surreality of urban life. While the novel is intriguing and well-written, I found it oddly uncompelling and spent weeks sporadically reading it. Nonetheless, I definitely look forward to reading more of his work.