Thursday, January 15, 2009

Norwegian Wood: A Book Review

I should start my blog with a book review on one of my favorite books: Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami.

This is a tale of acceptance and lonliness as characters and university students Toru and Naoko try to wonder: who are they? Naoko was Toru's best friend's girlfriend. Naoko and his friend did not have any other friends except Toru, who always goes with them when they go on dates. After his best friend commits suicide, nothing is the same for Naoko. Naoko turns weaker, and the real world becomes a frightening place for her.

Toru fell in love with Naoko, she had to go to a faraway wilderness-like place to seek medical treatment for an illness she mysteriously got after her boyfriend had committed suicide. As Toru waits endlessly for her letters, which Naoko gives him every once in a while, he meets a sexually liberated woman (sorry, it's so true) and classmate named Midori (means green, in Japanese), who wants everything in life. Midori brings excitement into his life as she always wishes to go to a place where relaxation is the key to happiness. He is unsure who to pick, since Naoko would be left lonely. Toru is Naoko's only connection to the real world. Toru is sort of a lonely sort himself.

This is a book that makes your head think, and I really mean it. I have to reread it over and over again because there's so many complex meanings this book has, that the book's cover does not make it easy as it looks. Have you ever wanted to go with somebody to just get away from all the stresses in life? Do you ever feel emotionally isolated in life, regardless if that's physically false, like the real world just doesn't make sense to you? Are you afraid of the real world sometimes?

Whether or not Murakami has solutions to these problems, I don't know (he's somewhat of an indirect person). After reading his book, you will look at life in a different way because we learn from these characters about how we can be better people again. Murakami is like a social critic, and in a modern country like Japan, a lot of questions I just stated are very universial. Once you grow up, you're going to be all on your own, and that's a difficult feeling. It's no surprise that many of Murakami's fans are teenagers and college students (well, in Japan, at least). 

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