This is the book that made Murakami so famous in
Written as a remembrance by a 37 year old Toru, this story moves from school life in
The story is of Toru’s relationship with 2 women – the Naoko who is the love of his life and Midori, his college-mate. Toru’s obsession with Naoko is long-lasting; 17 years after he has last seen her, airplane renditions of Norwegian Wood, her favourite song, can still bring him to his knees. He knows Naoko from his schooldays in
While Naoko is fighting for her sanity, Toru meets another woman – Midori. The antithesis of Naoko, Midori lives in the here and now. Vivacious and highly energetic, Midori knows enough of the downside of life to realize the importance of living life fully. The more Naoko withdraws from the world, the more Toru is drawn towards the life Midori shows him. Yet at the end, Norwegian Wood is Toru’s paean to Naoko.
Death and suicides stalk the book. At one point, Toru says, ‘Death exists, not as the opposite but as a part of life’. It could prove the guiding principle of the book. Pain accompanies a loved one’s death. But it is living with that pain, even learning from it, and yet getting on with life – that is the journey into adulthood. To me, this book was Toru’s learning of that lesson.