I wasn't thrilled with this book, but I am thrilled that I've finally been introduced to Haruki Murakami and I'm excited to read another book by him soon. Especially because (from what I've heard), Norwegian Wood is far more "normal" than all his other books. That strangeness is very appealing.
I did enjoy this book though. It's about a young man in college in Tokyo in the late 1960s, early 1970s. He happens to reunite with a high school acquaintance one day, Naoko, who was the girlfriend of his best friend in high school. That friend committed suicide when they were all 17 and ever since, Naoko and Toru (the narrator) haven't talked. Both are greatly affected by his death. But they're reunited now and they go on lots of walks and enjoy each other's company and start to fall in love. But Naoko has a lot of psychological problems and after a breakdown, she goes to a sanatarium in the mountains to get better. Toru writes to her and visits her, but he also meets a girl named Midori at school who is the opposite of beautiful, troubled Naoko. Midori is vibrant, open, sexual, and talkative.
I haven't read anything set in Japan that I can think of, so I really enjoyed that aspect of it. Reading about the landscape around the sanatarium, the tininess of Toru's dorm, the food, the school, the youth and how they acted. It's written very well, of course, and it's easy to get pulled into the characters and setting. At first I found Toru too passive and strange, but I really began to like him and understand him more as it went on. I also liked Naoko, troubled as she was. It was Midori who bothered me. She was selfish, too perverse, and insensitive to Toru's relationship status. If it weren't for her, I think I would have given the book 4 stars instead of 3.
But I can't wait to read another book by Murakami! 1Q84 scares me still, but I think I'll try The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle next.
TITLE: Norwegian Wood
AUTHOR: Haruki Murakami
PUBLICATION DATE: January 1987
DATE READ: 28 August 2012
VERDICT: 3.5/5 stars.
Have you ever read anything by Haruki Murakami? I'd love some recommendations!