When Toru Watanabe hears these lyrics by The Beatles on a plane to Frankfurt, his life as a student in Tokyo from over 20 years ago resurfaces in his mind. His Proustian experience centres on the image of his first love, Naoko.
At first, this novel may appear to depict a sad and touching love story, but soon you will discover that Norwegian Wood offers a lot more . It describes student life with its casual sex and easy friendships, set against the disruptive lifestyle of the late 60s and early 70s. The love story between Toru and Naoko is therefore drawn on the background of student riots, of Marxist groups, of young dreaming communists.
The element of surprise is essential to enjoy the beauty of this book, so I cannot give away too much . But I will tell you that the autobiographical style seems very authentic. By the end of the book, the reader has been convinced that all the events must have actually happened in Murakami’s life and are not works of total fiction. This feeling (and of course, The Beatles as the backing track) testifies to Murakami’s outstandingly high quality of writing.
Words by Madalina Glavan
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