Review | Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

When I first moved to Jakarta, I used to miss my friends from Delhi. So much so that whenever I used to get the time, I would figure out a way to call them or check if I have got any e-mails from them (yes, there was no WhatsApp – smartphones didn’t exist in this world). They would give me gossips on my classmates, juniors and seniors from that school, and I would sit and sulk about the fact that I missed out on all of it. I kept on rewinding my memories, in the process of which I hardly paid any attention to my present. Today, after more than a decade of leaving school, it is the memories from Jakarta which play in my mind and make me tear up, and not the ones from my school in Delhi.

Memory is a funny thing. When I was in the scene, I hardly paid it any mind. I never stopped to think of it as something that would make a lasting impression, certainly never imagined that eighteen years later I would recall it in such detail.

Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami

Norwegian Wood by Murakami is about dwelling on memories and nostalgia. While listening to the Beatles song, Toru Watanabe recalls a memory from twenty years back when he was a student in Tokyo. Twenty years back, after Toru Watanabe’s best friend and Naoko’s boyfriend, Kizuki committed suicide, Toru and Naoko get into a relationship. It is about how Toru begins to adapt to the loneliness and isolation he faces, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As Naoko gets sucked into the memory of her past, Toru reaches out to explore the newness. The reader is taken into a world of uneasy friendships, casual sex, passion, loss and desire.

This was my first Murakami, and I would say that I didn’t like all the characters. The women were all needy, dysfunctional, emotional or detached, and the man was unsentimental. But, I was definitely driven into the intuitive writing. Murakami made me feel insecure, confused and vulnerable all at the same time. His writing made me question so many things, and I think now I know why he has touched so many souls.

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