A week ago, I just read a book called Norwegian Wood written by Japanese author, Haruki Murakami. The book is translated by Jay Rubin and millions of copies have been sold worldwide. Murakami is one of the finest novelists and Norwegian Wood is emotionally engaging. I loved the book and here’s my review.
The book is set in the 1960′s and circles around three best friends Toru Watanabe, Naoko and Kizuki. The three introvert, dynamic and emotionally broken souls share a memorable relationship. Depression and failure to cope with loss brings an abrupt end to their physical friendship, yet the bond they share remains eternal.
The story begins as Toru Watanabe recollects his past as soon as he hears the song “Norwegian Wood” by The Beatles. Immediately he is transported twenty years back in time and reminds him of his college days in Tokyo and his first love, Naoko. Kizuki is the first person he meets and talks to in college. Soon Naoko, the beautiful tomboy who is Kizuku’s girlfriend joins them and they become the best of friends. Their friendship springs light into their life and they seem inseparable. They start enjoying each others company until, one day Kizuki kills himself. (While Kizuki was alive, Toru and Naoko spent time together. They fall in love but Naoko’s love for Kuziku is greater than Toru’s). Naoko never overcomes his death. She breaks down mentally as she hears Kizuki’s voice day and night. She decides to enroll herself in a sanatorium for depression where she is treated by Dr. Reiko. As she is away, Toru fondly remembers and yearns for her. He meets her a couple of times in the sanatorium and relives the memories he had with her. He supports her and promises to wait for her until her recovery.
As Naoko gets treated, Midori, a petite, jovial, kinky young woman enters Toru’s life and falls in love with him. Toru is now a state of dilemma as he has to choose between young Midori or live with the memories of Naoko, his first love. Naoko in the end kills herself to join her true love Kizuki in heaven. Toru accepts Midori’s companionship and decides to move on despite the sudden and shocking loss of his best friends.
This is may be a simple love triangle but the descriptive narrations of adolescence, student uprising, love, desire, emotions, and the strength to cope with loss indulges the reader. Murakami’s simplicity and touch makes Norwegian Wood a heart touching story and a MUST READ!