Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Norwegian Wood is a Japanese novel written by Haruki Murakami published in 1987 with the English translation published 2000. The title was inspired from The Beatles’ song Norwegian Wood because the song is a favorite of one of the characters and was mentioned a number of times throughout the novel. I wonder why it took so long for such a good novel as this to be republished in English.
The story revolves around Toru’s life as a college student during the 1960s, his experiences in life, love and education. A drastic change happens in his and Naoko’s lives when Kizuki (Toru’s bestfriend and Naoko’s boyfriend) suddenly took his life for no apparent reason. Their lives where shaken because of Kizuki’s death and both led lives each retreating into solitude.
I liked how the story was written, especially how Toru views different events in his life with a degree of indifference is fascinating. Here are some of the things I want to share about the book:
Life and death
“Death was not the opposite of life. It was already here, within my being, it had always been here, and no struggle would permit me to forget that.” – There are certain moments in the story which talks about life and death. When Kizuki died, it was as if Naoko and Toru also died. A part of their happiness ceased to exist and so they struggled to cope up with living without their connection. It is hard to cope up with the loss of someone you really care and love but we all have to accept that death is a part of life. The acceptance of death and moving on with life is no easy task but we have to surrender ourselves to the thought that we all will cease to exist in the end, it is just a matter of when and how this event will happen.
“When you fall in love, the natural thing to do is give yourself to it.” – The novel is pretty much a love story embedded in a tangle of some sorts. Its about loving unconditionally and waiting. It is also about finding your true self through the ones you love. There are different degrees to love as seen in the story, platonic and romantic. Sometimes, you mistake one for the other and sacrifice friendship over romance. It’s confusing but these are parts of self discovery that we all have to face.
The book is open-ended (the story has no conclusion) which is one of Murakami’s signature and I like it that way because you can actually conclude what happens in the story but more or less I already have an idea of how it ended. I love the ending by the way.