'Norwegian Wood' by Haruki Murakami

Tuesday 27 June 2017

"Those were strange days, now that I look back at them. In the midst of life, everything revolved around death.”
Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood

If it wasn’t for the babes in my book club ‘Norwegian Wood’ would have probably remained in my ‘to read’ pile for a long time. It’s the first Murakami novel I have read but it will not be my last. Initially I found it incredibly difficult to get into but I don’t like to give up on a book and I am so glad I didn’t.

Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood

‘Norwegian Wood’ was stirring, emotional and sometimes unbearable to read but that overwhelming feeling whilst reading was almost ethereal. Reading as if there was a film or a bubble around the characters with the sense of instability in their world, like it could all disappear. 

Murakami guides readers through some of life’s darkest moments and with ‘Norwegian Wood’ it is the themes death, loss and grief, but with insights not of solutions or grieving. The novel is a reflection of parts of Watanabe’s life but reflecting on the book it feels as if he and other characters are ignorant of the effect death had on him.

Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood

With this emotional inability to move on the novel falls into a perpetual state of winter, despite ‘Norwegian Wood’ ranging across all the seasons. As if death, loss and grief traps them in it because the characters fail to realise the impact that the bereavements have had on their lives, ignorant of death and the natural grieving process. Winter forms a natural metaphor for death, key in showing that death is natural in a novel where the culture denies death and keeps the dying out of site.  Snowy landscapes form the first pages of the novel and are replicated in Naoko’s frozen suicide. So as part of Watanabe leaves with death, it is as if winter has taken it.

‘Norwegian Wood’ is a novel of wandering characters searching for something to fill an emptiness as they fail to find the natural process of grief. An emptiness where they fail to recognise their pain as loss as they continually push themselves away from any chance of rebirth. What Watanabe finds with Naoko and Midori is misted by their own issues with loss as ‘Norwegian Wood’ reflects of just how many people wonder through life in a suspended state of grief. I could discuss ‘Norwegian Wood’ for pages as i’ve barely touched on one theme in this small space. But I guess that is what book clubs are for right? The slow and stirring nature of this novel pulls you into its delicate bubble looking for the light and I feel like I could keep unraveling it.

Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood

Get it here: Norwegian Wood 

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