I am a Haruki Murakami fan.
I love his more ordinary works like “Norwegian Wood” and “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage,” but I also enjoy his more out of this world novels, like “1Q84” and “Kafka on the Shore.”
“The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle,” with its abundance of surreal and supernatural elements, belongs firmly in this second category.
Toru Okada, the story’s protagonist, is recognizable as one of Murakami’s everyman leads—an unremarkable, ordinary man who is totally lost in life. When Okada’s wife leaves and refuses to speak with him, he is jolted out of his once uneventful existence.
Okada’s attempts at understanding why his wife left him and his eventual attempt at getting her back lead to his meeting a bizarre bunch of people, each of them too enigmatic to summarize in this review. He also ends up going on bizarre adventures, from the bottom of his neighbor’s well to the netherworld that lies beyond ordinary Tokyo.
Much of this novel does not make sense, but that’s part of the Murakami reading experience. Veteran Murakami readers know to expect a story where the journey is more important than the destination, where there are more loose ends at the end than the beginning.
That’s what I love the most about “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” and Murakami’s other works. Reading them transports me to a dream world of observation and introspection, and this transfer from reality to a fictional world is crucial to me, as a fiction reader.
Murakami once again explores the familiar themes of loneliness, alienation, and search for identity. It’s nice to read about characters to whose experiences and feelings I can relate to. Life, more often than not, is nonsensical and unexpected. Murakami captures this bizarre nature beautifully in “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.”