TITLE: Norwegian Wood
AUTHOR: Haruki Murakami
GENRE: Romance, Bildungsroman
Although Murakami is known for enticing his readers with magical realism, he approaches Norwegian Wood in a more straightforward manner.
It is a coming-of-age story which revolves around characters who struggle to deal with their flaws, and how each one of them chooses a different approach to subside their lingering monsters.
A 37 year old, Toru Watanabe finds himself reminiscing about a day he spent with a girl named Naoko, a girl he can never forget. They both had one thing in common, Kizuki who was Toru’s best friend and Naoko’s boyfriend. After Kizuki’s suicide, the story develops into a dark romance between Naoko, a girl who is carrying the weight of her past, Midori, a girl from Toru’s drama class who is vivacious but stoic and Toru himself who is torn between choosing a girl from his past and the girl from his present.
Mental illness is highlighted throughout the book but it reaches us through thoughts and actions taken by the characters.
If I relaxed for a second, I’d never find my way back. I’d go to pieces, and the pieces would be blown away.
The writing brings us closer to those who go through mental health issues and also what it does to people around them; The people who fall in love too hard with people who yet haven’t learned to love themselves.
It was deep beyond measuring and crammed full of darkness, as if all the world’s darkness had been boiled down to their ultimate density.Naoko (Norwegian Wood)
I wonder if we all come across this dark place at least once in our lives, where we get surrounded by a thick, never-ending layer of grief. Death, disappointment, abandonment, the inevitable, is what Murakami focuses on in this book.
The beauty of this book is that it doesn’t paint over the imperfections, but shows us what truly lies in the dark.
It is recommended to all those who enjoy a slow, tragic story which brings one closer to reality rather than providing them with an escape.