Book Review: Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami

Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki MurakamiAs you might know, I’m quite a Haruki Murakami fan. I’ve read most of his books. I’ve reviewed on my blog The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which was my first ever Murakami (the review on my blog is from a recent re-read), but my favorite books by Murakami are Hard-Boiled Wonderland or the End of the World and A Wild Sheep Chase.

Hear the Wind Sing is the first book in a series, Trilogy of the Rat which includes A Wild Sheep Chase, but not, oddly enough, a book that is strongly related to A Wild Sheep Chase, called Dance, Dance, Dance.

Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami (back cover)Hear the Wind Sing and the second book, Pinball, 1973 are not widely distributed. The English translation is only published in Japan. It’s a small book, less than half the size of a standard sized book and has Japanese writing on the back cover as well as the inside cover, and a long list of notes at the back, where English phrases are translated into Japanese. This is obviously a book for Japanese studying English. I think this is odd, as I would find it more logical to take an original English book and have a word-list at the back, rather than a translated Japanese book.

Anyway, I had heard about this book and never thought I’d have a chance to read it, but Chinoiseries offered to lend it to me and to bring it to the High Tea we Dutch book bloggers enjoyed recently. Very kind!

Hear the Wind Sing: What it is about

It’s the summer of 1970 and the unnamed protagonist meets his friend The Rat in J’s Bar, a place they both frequent. This first-person narrator, a 21-year old student, tells us about his visits to that bar, about his previous (three) girlfriends, and how he meets a girl and ends up in bed with her (innocently, she had passed out). They form a reluctant friendship.

His third girlfriend committed suicide. At first, this appears nothing to do with our narrator, but later on in the story, it seems that this may be a direct result of his behaviour towards her and a conversation they had not long before her death.

Derek Heartfield, a non-existent American writer, is the main inspiration for the protagonist (or Murakami himself) to start writing.

Hear the Wind Sing: What I thought

I was a bit disappointed with this book. It was short (130 pages), had several themes, and didn’t seem to go anywhere. Now, OK, I’m used to Murakami’s books just ending when nothing’s resolved yet but in this case, I wasn’t at all interested in the story.

I did like (a lot) Murakami’s writing style, that I think isn’t much different from his later books (this was his first ever book).

I liked the idea of having a non-existent author as the inspiration for becoming a writer, but on the other hand, how weird is that? I’m thinking: ha, fun, I like this quirky idea! But I’m also thinking: what am I supposed to think of that?

So, you can see, mixed feelings about this book. I did enjoy reading it though. But unless I hear stories about Pinball, 1973 being a lot better, I’m not that interested in reading it. Although I should, if I get the chance, because now I’ve read almost everything by Murakami, I should continue that trend, and include ALL books!

Have you read this book? What was your opinion?

Do you like Murakami’s books?

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

19 Responses to Book Review: Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami

  1. Chinoiseries says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed reading this book 🙂 As his first ever novel, I think it is only to be expected that he shows some experimenting in his writing. I haven’t yet read The Wild Sheep Dance, so I’m missing the connection. I wonder what you’ll think of Pinball, 1973 as it’s the book directly preceding the Sheep book 🙂

    • Leeswammes says:

      I actually don’t remember too much of *A Wild Sheep Chase* so I probably did miss a few connections too. I know The Rat, who plays a minor role in *Hear the Wing Sing*, is the main character in *A Wild Sheep Chase* but other than that… Once I read that book again, I may find things that I recognise form *Hear the Wind Sing*.

      You should read it, though, it’s one of my favorite Murakami’s – but it’s odd that I remember so little of it…. I guess it’s been a few years!

  2. I haven’t read this one yet, so I’m sorry that you didn’t love it. I have found Murakami very hit/miss. I guess I’ll have to read all of his books eventually, just so I know what they are like. I bet you’re not able to avoid Pinball for ever – your curiosity will make you pick it up at some point 😉

    • Leeswammes says:

      I usually like Murakami’s books, Jackie. But I do like some better than others. This one was OK, but just didn’t seem to go anywhere.

      Still, it was really nice to be able to read this rare book!

  3. Nadine Nys says:

    I’ve only read one book by Murakami, Spoetnikliefde (I don’t know the English title) and I liked it a lot, although I also have to admit that I do not remember a lot about it. Perhaps I should one day try another title by him.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Nadine, it’s Sputnik Sweetheart. I have read that, but don’t remember much of it, just like you.

      I suggest you try Kafka on the Shore, that will give you a good idea about Murakami’s style.

  4. JoV says:

    I love Murakami’s books. I’ll read it anyway. 😉

    • Leeswammes says:

      Ah, another Murakami fan: JoV. Oh yes, I do like to read everything by this author so even if I didn’t like it too much, it was still nice to have the experience.

  5. Trisha says:

    I have an embarrassing confession: I have read Murakami yet. I don’t think I’ll be starting with this one.

  6. Fiona says:

    I bought this one a month or so ago and I have Pinball as well – It was available to download so I have it on my Ereader.

    I don’t think it’s going to be as good as his other books because I’ve heard enough about it, but I’m curious and I want to read everything he has written. So I don’t really have high expectations of these but I do need to read these two books, before re-reading Sheep Chase and then Dance Dance Dance.

    It is his first book so I’m not expecting it to be anywhere near as good as his main ones. I mean, he doesn’t even like them and doesn’t want them published outside of Japan.

    My favourite is Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World too – absolutely loved that one.

  7. Marieke says:

    I’m laughing right now because of your comment on my post ‘First Lines’ — number 9 on the list is The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. It’s an intriguing first line!

    I’m looking forward to my first Murakami.

  8. sunshine says:

    as ‘hear the wind sing’ is not widely available outside of Japan – even if someone stumbles upon any ebook version of it over net , it seems hard to be sure whether the copy one has got has everything or not. I got an ebook which surprisingly of 52 pages in PDF. it’s the ‘KODANSHA INTERNATIONAL’ version and typed by a fan but only 52 pages ! I fear it might be incomplete.

    this is the link of that site –

    can you please tell me whether it is the complete work or not ? Otherwise, I won’t be reading it. It doesn’t seem like Murakami’s other works. First few pages , to me it seemed quite insipid.

  9. Bee says:

    I just read Hear The Wind Sing yesterday. I kept trying to figure out what is central to the story and then the book ends. While there isn’t a plot per se, unless you consider Murakami’s meanderings about the life of a 21 year old a plot, I really enjoyed Murakami’s writing as is the case for all his later books.

  10. Pingback: Boek recensie: De kleurloze Tsukuru Tazaki en zijn pelgrimsjaren door Haruki Murakami | De Boekblogger

  11. Zia Hashan says:

    I am a Bangladeshi. I first read `South of the Border, West of the Sun. I enjoy this book very much. Now I am reading Hear the Wind Sing. If I waned to translate it in to Bangla, What should i do?

    • Leeswammes says:

      Hi Zia. Thanks for your comment. You mean, you want to translate it? You need to contact the agent or publisher (or author) of the country of origin, I believe, i.e., Japan in this case. Sorry, I don’t know any more than that.

      Glad you’re enjoying Murakami so much that you’d like to translate it! I’m a fan, too.

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