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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Paperback – 22 Apr 1999

4.1 out of 5 stars 243 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (22 April 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099448793
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099448792
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (243 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

Bad things come in threes for Toru Okada. He loses his job, his cat disappears, and then his wife fails to return from work. His search for his wife (and his cat) introduces him to a bizarre collection of characters, including two psychic sisters, a possibly unbalanced teenager, an old soldier who witnessed the massacres on the Chinese mainland at the beginning of the Second World War, and a very shady politician.

Haruki Murakami is a master of subtly disturbing prose. Mundane events throb with menace, while the bizarre is accepted without comment. Meaning always seems to be just out of reach, for the reader as well as for the characters, yet one is drawn inexorably into a mystery that may have no solution. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is an extended meditation on themes that appear throughout Murakami's earlier work. The tropes of popular culture, movies, music, detective stories, combine to create a work that explores both the surface and the hidden depths of Japanese society at the end of the 20th century.

If it were possible to isolate one theme in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle that theme would be responsibility. The atrocities committed by the Japanese army in China keep rising to the surface like a repressed memory, and Toru Okada himself is compelled by events to take responsibility for his actions and struggle with his essentially passive nature. If Toru is supposed to be a Japanese Everyman, steeped as he is in Western popular culture and ignorant of the secret history of his own nation, this novel paints a bleak picture. Like the winding up of the titular bird, Murakami slowly twists the gossamer threads of his story into something of considerable weight. --Simon Leake, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Deeply philosophical and teasingly perplexing, it is impossible to put down" (Daily Telegraph)

"Visionary...a bold and generous book" (New York Times)

"Murakami weaves textured layers of reality into a shot-silk garment of deceptive beauty" (Independent on Sunday)

"Mesmerising, surreal, this really is the work of a true original" (The Times)

"Critics have variously likened him to Raymond Carver, Raymond Chandler, Arthur C. Clarke, Don DeLillo, Philip K. Dick, Bret Easton Ellis and Thomas Pynchon - a roster so ill assorted as to suggest Murakami is in fact an original" (New York Times)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Absolutely one of the most incredible, mind-bending books I've ever read (I've pencilled it in to re-read, so I can try to wrap my head round it!). Murakami is such an effortlessly excellent writer, I think his style has a beautiful flow to it, which lulls you into the story. As for the plot itself...prepare to have your head well and truly messed with! The scenes in the well are particularly memorable, and more than a little eerie. Love, love, LOVE this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is at times a tough read, for me, i found myself engaged but also put off by some of the long winding story telling and unusual side stories.
I'm not sure if there is something that is lost in cultural translation, but at times i never felt completely involved in the story, but found the plotting and intrigue kept me involved.
Very hard to put a finger on what i liked about this book, but i know at the end i had enjoyed the journey, although it is a long one.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A great book! It's a book which will play on your mind for many days after reading it. I loved the sad and lonely characters plus the surreal moments. The author's style of writing is refreshing.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
good
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An ordinary decent person, his beloved wife walks out on him, influenced by her evil brother.
Read this book !
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not normally the type of book I read, not a bad read but not outstanding either.......... just an average book really
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My words can't begin to do justice to this incredible and moving book. Another masterpiece from a gifted writer. Read it.
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By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER on 30 April 2017
Format: Paperback
Encouraged by his wife Kumiko’s willingness to support him, Toru Okada gives up his mundane job as a legal assistant to work out what he really wants to do. The quiet life of a “house husband” is punctuated with bizarre phone calls from strange women and encounters which lead to the spinning of some odd tales against the surreal background call of the wind-up bird. Toru’s most obvious trait is a remarkable passivity - possibly the author's indictment of Japanese men in general. When Kumiko expresses her detestation of beef stir-fried with green peppers, Toru dumps the offending mixture in the garbage, not out of pique but pragmatically because it is not required. Yet the incident leads him to wonder if it is possible “for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another”. If he will die without ever really knowing her, what is the point of a life confined to living together? His job-free existence gives him the freedom to philosophise in this way for the first time – a comment on the pressurised Japanese society of the 1990s.

Kumiko seems withdrawn, and may be unhappy or concealing something from Toru, as he admits he is doing in turn. Is he depressed, going a little mad, or utterly sane in stepping off the Japanese treadmill of hard work, conformity, keeping face, and pursuing a veneer of westernised culture underlain by oriental traditions. Before Kumiko was allowed to marry, for instance, she and Kumiko had to pay regular visits to a medium, to gain a favourable assessment from him. Similarly, Kumiko’s obnoxious brother consulted a clairvoyant on the whereabouts of her missing cat, named Noboru Wataya after him.
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