Being a born-and-bred city girl, there is nothing I find less compelling than trees. Sure, forests are splendid places and many a beautiful picture has been taken with breathtakingly tall and majestic trees, but there is probably nothing more boring than plain old wood. With that said, Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood is a far cry from boring. Every word that Murakami pens down is filled with fresh symbolism, and being the nerdy English student that I am, I absolutely revel in this. There’s just something so indescribably beautiful about the way Murakami writes that lends to the strength of the entire novel.
Apart from being one of the most gorgeous and compelling works of fiction I have read this year, Norwegian Wood also contains complex and deep themes that deal with finding your identity and explore notions of love, lust, friendship, and death. The story revolves around Toru Watanabe, who is looking back on his life as a college student in Tokyo during the late 1960s. Toru falls in love with the beautifully complicated Naoko, whom he knew in school through his then best friend, Kizuki. Toru is listless, withdrawn, and refreshingly real, and is pursued by the lively and energetic Midori. It is an astonishing novel. I was sucked into it effortlessly, and after reading the book I felt as if a hollow emptiness enveloped me for the next few days. The novel had such a great impact on me that I honestly couldn’t believe that the story had ended after I finished it. Even now I still don’t fully understand how Murakami led his readers to feel so empathetic towards the characters.
If you’ve yet to pick up a Murakami book, you should definitely give Norwegian Wood a try.
Contributed by Nusaiybah Nasaruddin, Catholic Junior College