Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Book Review: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles ( by Haruki Murakami )

Profound and abstract at the same time, 'The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles' has been one of the most impressive books that I have read in recent days. Taking off with a mundane beginning that has a couple searching for their missing cat, the storyline quickly delves into their disintegrating marriage, a host of psychic characters, and surprisingly the evil happenings of World War II. It is not a neat little plot where all the strings are tied up but more like an magnificent abstract canvas on which the artist has painted discrete images with bold strokes.

Toru Okada's life in suburban Tokya is less than idyllic. He has lost his job and is hardly interested in finding another one. But when his wife Kumiko leaves him, he is completely shattered. Then there is his strange relationship with a sixteen year old girl who is fascinated with death. He discovers a dried up well and climbs down to the bottom to think with renewed clarity. A dream encounter with a prostitute in a hotel room leaves him with a purple scar on the face. And this scar is what draws another psychic woman towards him. She helps him with his search for Kumiko but at a price. He must turn into a 'prostitute of the mind' .

These surreal happenings in Okada's life are juxtaposed with the spine chilling and often nauseating events of the World War . One of the most memorable sections of the book is the skinning of a prisoner that is described in morbid detail. It is just too grotesque to be forgotten in a long time. The zoo massacre comes a close second on the grotesque scale.

And then there is the story of the shitty island which is actually symbolic of too many things than happen in the world. Things that propagate themselves by their own power to such an extent that after a point on one is capable of putting a stop to it. Not even the one who started it in the first place. Too philosophical ? Yes, it is .

If you have been wondering about the book's title,  'The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles' is derived from the mechanical screeching of a bird that is portrayed as the harbinger of catastrophe. While it packs in quite a punch, this book is only recommended for die-hard fans of Murakami !!

[ If you looking to pick Murakami's works, I would recommend something like 'Kafka on the Shore' or 'Norwegian Wood' for the beginners. ] 

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