The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami

I’ve been away on vacation in Italy for a month, and so even though I have been reading I haven’t gotten a chance to share my reviews yet. But I am now home, and so the reviews will follow slowly. The first book I read, started in late June, and probably one of my favorites of the year so far is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami. This is now my fourth Murakami book, and it is in my opinion on par with Norwegian Wood and Kafka on the Shore (although the latter is rather fuzzy in my mind, time for a re-read!).

What Sputnik Sweetheart tries to do but in my opinion falls short on, The wind-up Chronicle succeeds with flourish. I felt that the real and the magical elements in Sputnik Sweetheart did not quite melt into one unity, my main complaint for the book as a whole. But The Wind-up Chronicle is a perfect example of magical realism done right; where the surrealistic touches adds to the mystery and the dream like experience Murakami is famous for.

Our protagonist, Okada, is an ordinary man in his thirties, but as other characters point out, he acts in abnormal ways. After his wife suddenly disappears he finds himself surrounded by one strange person after the other; the sixteen year old May Kasahara living in one of the houses in the neighbourhood, Malta Kano – some sort of psychic and her sister Creta Kano, Noburo Wataya – Okada’s wife’s brother, the mystery lady on the phone, Lieuntant Mamiya, and the list goes on. Each have their own fates, never as simple as they first seem. Okada himself is swept away by the mystery surrounding his wife’s disappeareance, his meetings with odd characters, and his own fate waiting to untangle.

Every character has their own quirks, and their own places in the story. Instead of having a clear red thread, the story is fluid and changes shape along the way. It is never predictable, just as the characters actions rarely are predictable. If one, as a reader, is open for it, this book can take you on a strange and wonderful trip. It was for me a magical and fascinating reading experience, and in comparison to Sputnik, the dreamy sensation I had while I was reading has stayed with me upon closing the book. This story and this world full of nuance and dimension is not likely to leave me for some time to come.

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