Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami

On hearing the Beatles song, Watanabe is taken back twenty years to his student life and the relationships he had. His best friend Kizuki killed himself, and after this, Watanabe found himself becoming increasingly close to Kizuku's girlfriend Naoko.

Pretty well written, and while I get the impression that much of Murakami's work verges on the magic realism, this was only vaguely surreal; the effect was perhaps mitigated by the fact that events took place in Japan in the '60s, as a result of which I was expecting things to feel a bit alien.

I didn't really have any idea how the book would turn out, so it was quite a compelling read, although I don't think any of the characters was particularly sympathetic: Watanabe was obviously troubled, but not without flaws of his own, and Naoko was a bit too self-obsessed. The book did capture some of the feelings of adolescent love, although I felt this was undermined to some extent by the rather amoral attitudes of Watanabe and his fellow students.

Definitely worth a read, and I might try more by Murakami.

Completed : 03-Jun-2008

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