The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami is a Japanese novel published in 1994-95. The English translation which I came across was the one published by Vintage and brilliantly translated by Jay Rubin. The book has a total page count of 607- which is longer than most of Haruki Murakami’s other acclaimed works.
The novel begins with Toru Okada cooking spaghetti while listening to the ‘Thieving Magpie’ which Toru states is the perfect music to listen while cooking pasta.
His wife Kumiko informs him that their cat Noboru Wataya named after her politician economist brother has not come back and has been lost.
So, the search begins when Toru Okada climbs the wall of his alley and goes around hunting for the cat while his days are spent cooking, doing domestic chores as he is jobless, hunting for the cat, looking for a new job, and receiving explicit erotic phone calls by unknown women.
Slowly but surely, his wife seems to be growing more distant from home and Toru which sets a series of events and characters into motion- each of which have had a strange life in a strange time doing strange things and with astoundingly, strange destinies.
Murakami is a very famous author- in fact one of the very people who have a huge support and fan following to win the next nobel prize in terms of critics as well as every day literature readers.
His language is uniquely simple, every word is clear and one encounters no difficulty in grasping the importance of what he states which is one of the many positive aspects of this significant work.
On the other hand, his themes are highly complex and psychologically deep- the language flows in such fluidity that it gives a dreamlike meditating sensation to the mind.
This novel does not give any answers to the question because it is not about answers, it is about the questions he poses on everything- his imagination is grandiose and the fluidity of his language is sublime- terrifying and moving to the extent of dizziness.
Murakami plays around with the thin line between reality and thought, conscious and subconscious, physical and metaphysical sensations which create a very surreal atmosphere- intriguing but bewildering and perplexing sensations that starts juggling with one’s brain until they break, merge and twist into a thousand different scenarios.
It is an emotional rollercoaster which takes you through very harsh yet subtle instances of loneliness, search of identity, alienation,friendship, love,loss and ,heartache.
The characters are naively common, original and normal but their journeys are abnormal, unique and almost manically depressing to read through.
Toru Okada, May Kashahara, Kumiko,Noboru Wataya, Creta and Malta Kano, Cinammon and Nutmeg, Lieutenant Mamiya and Mr Honda, the unnamed doctor, Boris the man skinner, and who can forget the small but resounding role of the Wind-Up Bird- are few of the main memorable characters of this unbelievable novel.
The novel goes through a wide range of scenarios- common life, history, politics, psychology, and other human faculties which I have stated earlier on.
The writing is very pictorial, very visual and fast paced at an almost philosophically engaging dimension which makes The Wind -Up Bird Chronicle , a fascinating read.
“Memories and thoughts age, just as people do. But certain thoughts can never age, and certain memories can never fade.”
-Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle