REVIEW: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

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Before I start this post properly, I’m going to ask for your forgiveness in advance. You see, this is a very strange book and one that I struggle to describe, especially without giving anything away. Please forgive me if I’m vague or follow unusual tangents, just like the book itself.

One of the genres that I love but haven’t read enough of is magical realism. I pick one up and I really enjoy it but I don’t seem to naturally reach for it as much as I do fantasy, sci-fi or dystopian. It is, quite simply, a genre that I just don’t know as much about. I tend to rely on recommendations from trusted friends to guide me towards specific books, rather than merely picking something off the shelf.

As such, when I took part in a book swap that was organised by The Graduate Book Club over on Instagram, I chose to let my book be a surprise. I simply chose the genre and let my partner pick something for me.

Their choice?

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. At its simplest, this is a book about a seemingly ordinary man who loses his cat and encounters some weird and wonderful things in his quest to get it back. At its most complex, it is a 600 page meandering adventure that resists summary.

If you are to read this book, you have to accept its twists and turns. They are not part of a thriller but the way the book flows, bringing more and more threads of story into its intricate tapestry. The mystery of the cat defies a simple explanation and consequently so does the plot. I have more questions now that I’ve finished the book than I did when I started. From what I can tell, that is the way it goes with Murakami.

It takes a little while to get used to this style of writing and to get rid of the urge to solve the mysteries but once I did just that, I was utterly immersed into the weird and wonderful world. I was swept up in the captivating characters and strange settings that made up this book. Like the narrator, I let myself be guided by them and fully enjoyed the ride.

The complete immersion doesn’t make for easy reading and it took me quite a while to finish this book as I tended to read it in chunks rather than dipping in and out. However, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and would happily lose an hour in its pages. It just required quite a lot of focus so maybe don’t pick this one if you have fancy a read that you can read in short chunks before bed.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would definitely read more Murakami but I’m going to give my brain – and imagination – a rest first. It’s earned it.

Kelly x

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