#TBT Norwegian Wood

Vintage Murakami

Globally, Haruki Murakami is undoubtedly Japan's most famous contemporary novelist.  His work is complex and literary yet remains engaging and, for many, addictive.  But before The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, before there was 1Q84, there was Norwegian Wood: the novel that catapulted Murakami to fame.  Norwegian Wood is considered an early work though Murakami had written four novels before it.  The story is markedly different from those that would follow: less surreal, less dystopian, less satirical of the status quo-essentially, less Kafka-esque.  Instead, Norwegian Wood is an adeptly written coming of age story, often likened to The Catcher in the Rye; an early association which ultimately foretold the book's evolution into a Japanese literary classic since its original publication in 1987.  For a deeper look at Murakami's life and work, check out this piece by the Paris Review.



A coming of age story is only as good as it's main character; Like Salinger's Caulfield,Toru Watanabe, the protagonist and narrator of Norwegian Wood, is the sort of rare, perfectly developed narrator that garners a multi-generational cult following.  Below are more of our favorite coming of age novels.  

1. The Catcher in the Rye

2.  The Russian Debutante's Handbook

3.  Everything is Illuminated

4.  Good Evening Mr. and Mrs. America

5.  The Kite Runner

6.  Shabanu

7.  Ham on Rye

The book takes its title from the below Beatle's song of the same name; track two from the album Rubber Soul.  Its significance resurfaces throughout the novel,

which is set in Tokyo during the 1960's.







A Japanese film version of the novel directed by Tran Anh Hung was released in 2010.  It is available with English subtitles for rent or purchase on iTunes.