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Book Review: A juicy mystery story for fans of Murakami

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Jakarta | Fri, November 25, 2016 | 12:47 pm
Book Review: A juicy mystery story for fans of Murakami

Critics have given "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" a hard time for the vague note the story ends on, despite juicy and interesting subplots. (Shutterstock/File)

Murakami is the kind of writer who hardly ever surprises. Someone — something — is always missing in his stories.

In Sputnik Sweetheart, a woman goes missing in Greece, leaving behind a boy whose love continues unrequited. In Dance, Dance, Dance, a man experiences dreams of a woman who went missing, which eventually leads him to uncover new mysteries.

In The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, the Japanese virtuoso returns with a story that touches on similar themes, but with a few refreshing twists. Our protagonist, Toru Okada, is your everyman, out of luck, out of work and stuck in a problematic marriage. We meet him at the very start of the book as he searches for the cat he and his wife keep as a pet.

His search ends up being about much more. Along the way, he stumbles into various characters that reveal the truth about the things around him — among them are May Kasahara, psychic Malta Kano and Creta, who says she was raped by his wife, who also goes missing in the second part of the novel.

(Read also: Accepting award, Murakami warns against excluding outsiders)

While the twists and turns of this mystery story may ring a bell for those familiar with Murakami’s style, the book stands out as one of his more complex writings. The further into the story readers get, the harder it becomes to differentiate between the real and the imagined. Murakami is also so liberal with his use of symbolism that you’re left wondering whether he uses it for meaning or purely for the sake of adding more mystery to an already difficult puzzle.

Critics have given the book a hard time for the vague note the story ends on, despite juicy and interesting subplots, but if there’s anything certain here, it’s that no one picks up a Murakami book for closure. Don’t come to this elusive writer for answers, but if you’ve got time for open-ended questions follow the call of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

Click here to read The Wind Up Bird Chronicle online.

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Category: Fiction

Author: Haruki Murakami

Publisher: Knopf

Published: 1997

ISBN0965341984

Reviewer: Christabelle Adeline Palar

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.

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