After the controlled realism of early-period Murakami (hard to get hold of in english), he moved into a self-conciously zany phase of writing - full of ultra-bizzare happenings and experimental plot twists. This is probably the best of those works (though 'A Wild Sheep Chase' comes a close second, with the yet-to-be-reissued 'Dance, Dance, Dance' in third place). I like this book, but like those other two it feels a little overloaded and slightly too unfocused, like he's getting something out of his system.
After these works, he wrote Norwegian Wood, in which he perfected the poised tragic realism he had written in before - and in doing so become a superstar in his native japan. He… Read more
This was the first Murakami novel I read, and it remains the best (above NW, Sputnik Sweetheart, or Underground). What this reminds me of more than anything is Twin Peaks.
A man is comfortable in his seemingly humdrum life until he starts to investigate the case of his wife's missing cat. As the layers start to peel back, he slowly discovers that the world is following the logic of a kind of Japanese dreamtime... and as he follows the signs and symbols of this madness, he is drawn to ANOTHER PLACE... the mysterious hotel, and the nightmare figure that stalks it.