Synopsis: Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual obsession is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.
A magnificent blending of the music, the mood, and the ethos that was the sixties with the story of one college student's romantic coming of age, Norwegian Wood brilliantly recaptures a young man's first, hopeless, and heroic love.
Date Published: September 12, 2000 (English Translation)
Published By: Vintage Books
Number of Pages: 296
Murakami's novels are usually filled with surreal elements and characters getting themselves into bizarre situations. That's why it was interesting to read a book by him that was, by Murakami standards, a rather straightforward love story.
Yet, without Murakami's trademark surrealism, I still felt like the story was magical in a different sort of way. Murakami has a way of expressing thoughts and ideas that every person probably has throughout their lifetime in such a profound way that you wonder if Murakami is able to read minds. That's what I thought while reading Norwegian Wood. I couldn't believe the way the characters' ideas about society, life, and relationships so eerily matched up with mine. And this book was originally published before I was even born!
It's very easy to be hypnotized by Murakami's writing. While I was reading, I was so caught up in the story that everything around me kind of melted away and it was just me and the words on the page. When I inevitably had to put the book down, I felt myself having to adjust to reality, like waking from a very vivid dream.
That is the genius of Murakami's work. He creates another reality, another world that is so easy to get lost in that I found myself thinking about this book long after I had turned the final page. It is exquisite in its simplicity and you don't realize just how emotionally devastated you are until the final chapter. I'm not talking about sobbing uncontrollably on the floor. I'm talking about the quiet kind of devastation, the one that makes you sit still for a while where all you can do is pay attention to your own heartbeat.