Murakami writes with such poetry and enticing perversity in this tonally sombre book, published in 1987 by Kodansha. Toru Watanabe, the protagonist, hears the song Norwegian Wood by the Beatles aboard a flight and is instantly transported back to his disillusioned youth after his best friend, Kizuki committed suicide leaving Toru and Kizuki’s girlfriend, Naoko mutually bereaved, the grief of which somehow sexually gravitates them to one another.
Norwegian Wood is contextually aware in its allusion to suicide. The pressure to be an exceptional student, attend a prestigious university and follow the linear path of social acceptableness is such that many people in Japan feel driven to such a tragic end. Toru stands out in this respect. He goes to university but doesn’t care much for his studies and casually sleeps with girls alongside his egotistical friend. This redeems his otherwise bland personage for me, by giving his character a sense of novelty.
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