I don’t know what to say about this book. I loved some parts of it, and I despised some parts of it. I had heard a lot about Haruki Murakami and his dark novels, but I refrained from buying it until one of my senior officers in my office suggested it to me.
The language of the novel is superb, to say the least. There is a delectable mix of poetic and simple portions. The descriptions of ambiance and emotions are brilliant. The dialogues are also brilliant. Overall, I loved the language.
As far as philosophy is concerned, Murakami is brilliant. He doesn’t preach stuff, like several books I’ve read till now. He uses the character’s thoughts/dialogues to convey the message, which is marvelous, and probably, how it should be.
I loved the first half of the novel, as far as the story goes. I enjoyed the dark and casual way in which certain happenings like death is portrayed. The characterization of the protagonist was good. I loved Reiko’s back story. It triggered a peculiar yet depressing emotion in me; perhaps for the first time ever; maybe I’ve not read dark novels before that’s why.
Despite being a campus book, it was nothing like the spineless romance used in Indian campus novels (including my debut book 😉 ). There was dark undertone to the dorm story, which was quite fascinating to me.
One more strange thing I noticed in this book was the role of sex, especially till the first half. It has been portrayed wonderfully, as if sex is a character in itself. Its not the disgusting, totally-unrelated-to-the-story-but-just-to-maintain-lustful-intrigue kind of sex found in most Indian fiction (not just the campus love stories but in literary books by Jhumpa Lahiri and Arundhati Roy as well). Sex has a role in defining the characters, the darkness, the emotions, and the events which shaped their lives. But, alas, a few unnecessary sexual escapades in the latter half spoil the effect as they tend to lean towards the aforementioned type of sex. A huge disappointment.
Midori was an irritating character, and the reason why she picks up a fight with Toru (for forgetting to acknowledge her new hairstyle) was childish. I didn’t like the confusing ending, too. It was too rushed. Many things are left unexplained, and its difficult to determine what might have happened. I also didn’t feel emotional anytime in the book, which I had expected in this supposedly dark book. But for the evocative language and a unique yet dark story, Norwegian Wood deserves 3.75 stars.