24 of 31 people found the following review helpful
A beautiful, complex and enlightening read,
This review is from: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (Paperback)
Having heard good things about Haruki Murakami's most highly-acclaimed work to date, I decided it was about time I gave it a read. The story follows a thirty year old Japanese man named Toru Okada as his life spirals out of control, becoming more and more bizzare with each new mysterious stranger that enters his world. The events unfold as Toru searches for his missing cat - strangely absent from its usual territory - and copes with the traumatic fact that his wife has disappeared without so much as a goodbye.
The book oftens reads like a series of interwoven short stories. Coupled with the fact that the novel often focuses on specific aspects of Japanese culture, I was greatly reminded of the enchanting 'Ghostwritten' by David Mitchell, which I would reccommend whole-heartedly.
I frequently found it difficult to relate to the character of Toru Okada, largely because his character was never fully developed. He rarely expressed an opinion, and we learn next to nothing about his personal history. Saying that however, this could well have been the author's intention, as Toru is such a magnet for eccentric characters, it was inevitable that he would fade into the background whilst in their presence. Such personalities include those of the Kano sisters - often called upon for their psychic abilities, and frequently able to project themselves into Toru's dreams. The mysterious 'Nutmeg' too, along with her mute son 'Cinnamon' play a significant role in Toru's ever-changing circumstances.
I think it would be fair to say that the author was keen on employing many philosophical and spiritual ideas within his story: aspects of Zen, cause and effect, and even Feng Shui make an appearance. There is a certain amount of paranormal activity too, with phenomena such as the previously mentioned psychic ability, astral projection, lucid dreaming and spiritual healing. Although these ideas are prominent throughout the book, it is essentially a psychological detective story, beautifully written with an intelligent and sensitive narrative.
I found the book to be reminiscant of 'The Magus' (by John Fowles), which is similar in terms of its unusual take on psychological aspects of the personality. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is a stunning novel, and is written with such warmth and wit that I was literally unable to put it down, and whizzed through the six hundred pages in no time at all. Haunting and many-layered, it is a truly magnificant book, which I can't recommend highly enough.