The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

indexI don’t think I am the best person to review any of Haruki Muarakami’s works because I usually love them, flaws and all, but here I go. It’s the kind of writing that contains such original phrasing and sentences you can lift them out and put them in your journal, diary or on your fridge to remember. Some of his flaws include an almost repetitive and formulaic approach to writing, with many overlapping themes and similar characters. The caveat is, he manages to also be highly original, fusing metaphysics, pop culture, surrealism, even mystery noir writing at times.

While his writing is deceptively simple about seemingly normal activities, it is offset with a range of bizarre, destabilizing elements that gives the tone of his writing a dark almost otherworldly feel. He explores what it means to be drifting all alone in this modern world. Whether you live in Japan or in the western world, his writing is thoroughly global and his themes of loneliness and disconnection quite universal. This is the magic of his story-telling and it’s why I forgive him all manner of writing sins.

The Wind-up Bird Chronicles is one of my favourite books of all time. It’s one of his most original – fusing history, surrealism, metaphysics with a love story. He has written many books but for me a lot of them feel like a shadow of this great work. If you were to pick one of his books to start with it would be this one (and definitely not Norweigan Wood which while very accessible doesn’t offer the best entry point into what his writing is all about).

There are some particularly dark forces at work in this novel, including some horrific happenings around conflict in Outer Mongolia in the 1930s, yet it doesn’t fixate on this. Somehow the surreal aspects keep you pinned despite the horror. I definitely think this is the best book to start with if you are curious about his writing, please feel free to disagree fellow fans. Which is your favourite Murakami book?