Hello my darlings.
How are we this fine morning/night? I am stressed but getting by! Today I wanted to quickly write about the fourth book my brother chose for me! If you don’t know, this post is actually the fourth in a series that I have on my blog in which my brother chooses a book for me to read. Pretty straightforward. If you want, here are the episodes one, two and three.
I am going to be completely honest with you all. My brother, Adrian, chose this book for me in January.
In my defense, I would try to pick this book up throughout the year and I just could not get into it because it wasn’t the right time for me to read it.
The book was Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami! I was intimidated, not going to lie, because this book has such a variety of opinion. People either really freaking love it or are completely frustrated that it’s Murakami’s most known work globally.
I was a tad bit…afraid.
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami follows the quiet and serious university student, Toru in Tokyo. Could I describe it as a sort of coming-of-age in which the narrator is both looking back to his past in reflection as well as looking forward at the same time? The synopsis is as follows:
Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.
A magnificent blending of the music, the mood, and the ethos that was the sixties with the story of one college student’s romantic coming of age, Norwegian Wood brilliantly recaptures a young man’s first, hopeless, and heroic love.
My thoughts on this book.
Immediately finishing it, I actually wrote about it in my journal because I was trying to make sense of how I was feeling and what I was thinking.
I’m literally going to just transcribe that journal entry because I think it perfectly captures my thoughts on Norwegian Wood.
TW: suicide, grief, paedophilia, homophobia, discussions of mental health
‘I enjoyed it; I honestly think that Murakami has an extreme talent with words. He writes so beautifully, it almost blinds you. His scenes are ome of the most immersice, descriptive, vidualy stunning I’ve read in literary fiction – maybe Donna Tartt’s The Secret History wins though on the sort of lyrical, almost poetic nature of her writing.
I just adored the way Murakami explored death and life, light and darkness. Suicide was a major aspect of the novel, which I wasn’t expecting, as well as the emotional aftermath of suicide on loved ones. Toru, as the main character and our narrator, shows the emotional highs and extreme lows that come with the death of his loved ones (best friend and woman he is in love with). This book does also explore mental illness in a way that, when this was written, would have been quite progressiv but now is semi-problematic as it focuses on ‘curing’, etc. But it was incredibly interesting and probably (and still slightly is) eye-opening for the period in which it was written.
But one of the main issues I had with this book, and why I rated it 3.5 stars, is the incredibly sexualisation of all the women Toru has contact with – well, mainly the women who in some way, impacted Toru (being Reiko, Naoko and Midori). All were portrayed explicitly from the male gaze – which yes, I understand that it it written from the perspective of a man but there is a difference. All of these women wanted to have sex with Toru – to the point that sometimes it just felt awkward and out of place. For a guy that was ‘ordinary’ in all aspects of himself – how the hell did all these wonderfully attractive women, according to him, constantly wanted to ride him till the sun rose?
There was even dialogue complimenting his penis or his sexual prowress too many times to count. It felt as though it was an author insert, in some way. There was also a paedophilia scene with Reiko and a 13 year old girl that was written so weuirdly and sexualised the young girl, whilst also painting it as a rape scene, not of the young girl who couldn’t legally consent and supposedly was the ‘aggressor’ but of Reiko herself. It also painted (as well as implied) that lesbianism was ‘deviant’ behaviour, perpetuating the long-held myth that homosexuality was a danger to society and to young children.
There were aspects of this novel that just didn’t need to be a part of the narrative because it did absolutely nothing to move the story forward or even create depth to the story in any way.
But I would read another one of Murakami’s novels as his writing was beautiful. (11/7/20)’
That is the end! I want to try and write these sorts of review entries in my journal more often. To reiterate, I rated Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami a 3.5 stars out of 5. I would definitely like to read more of his works – does anyone have an recommendations?
I hope you are all taking care and staying safe.
Until next time, happy reading!
All the love,