Sunday, March 11, 2012


Pages: 607
Date: 10/03/2012
Grade: 5

What a strange, wonderful and fascinating story.

It all starts when the cats disappears. Or does it start with the strange and very intimate phone-calls from a woman who claims familiarity without revealing who she is?
Toru Okada has recently resigned his job and takes care of the household chores while his wife, Kumiko goes to work every day.
Okada is quite content spending his time at home while he tries to figure out what he wants to do with the rest of his life. Although his wife is getting more and more distant and is coming home from work ever later, Okada doesn’t worry or even think about it too much.
And then one day Kumiko disappears. She leaves for work in the morning, wearing a perfume Okada doesn’t recognize and doesn’t come back. She vanishes without a word or trace leaving Okada confused and eager to find her.
In the time after his wife’s disappearance Okada meets a host of strange and fascinating people who all share stories with him. Both the people and their stories are somehow important for and connected to Okada’s life and quest although neither Okada nor the reader can be sure how or why.
From a sixteen year old school girl to a World War Two veteran, an evil brother and the woman he violated, to people with deeper insights all sorts of characters have their role to play and histories to share before this story comes to its conclusion.

This is indeed a fascinating book. It is also a very well written and perfectly plotted story.
For about 550 out of 607 pages this story made little or no sense. This book appeared to be a collection of narratives with very little connection between them. And then in those final pages it all starts to make some kind of fantastical sense. All the various stories come together, and not a single detail in any of those disparate stories is without relevance. I have absolutely no idea how Murakami managed to make the nonsensical make sense, but he did.

I usually don’t have time for books that don’t make sense. If I can’t lose myself in a story that I can somehow visualise, I tend to lose interest in it.
This book hardly ever made any sense, and I could never really distinguish between fantasy and reality in this story. Yet the writing took me along. The words were well placed, the humour made me smile and the sentences flowed beautifully along. While I found myself wondering what on earth I was reading I never once felt tempted to put the book aside unfinished. What I read might not have been making a lot of sense to me, but all the apparently separate stories were interesting enough in and off themselves for me to keep on turning the pages. The fact that it all appeared to make some sort of weird sense in the end after all was a bonus, but I would have enjoyed this book if that had not been the case.

No matter how much I write, I can’t seem to do this book and the hold it had over me any justice, so I’ll give up.
Read the book and be ready to be amazed, bewildered and fascinated!


Adam said...

Hey, I've just finished reading this too and found the same thing as you: even though the story is very fragmented and didn't seem to make much sense, every chapter was so interesting that I still loved it. I thought it was brilliant, but think re-reading it will make things come together a lot more. Maybe next year! Have you read any of his other books?

Marleen said...

I read Norwegian Wood not too long ago (January?) and hope to read both books of IQ84 in the not too distant future. What about you, Adam? Any titles by him you'd like to recommend?