Joining the Japanese Literature Challenge

Japanese Literature Challenge

Japanese Literature Challenge

I’m joining the Japanese Literature Challenge, organised by Dolce Bellezza.

The requirements are simple: read at least one book between June 1, 2011 and January 30, 2012. Well, I’ve been wanting to read 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. This has been out in the Netherlands since last year, and I, self proclaimed Murakami fan, haven’t even looked at it. I guess the size (3 chunky books) was stopping me. No longer, I will read this! I will!

What is 1Q84 about?

(I had to look this up)

Description of the first book from (Dutch online bookstore, translated by me):

“1Q84 is the thrilling story of Aomame and Tengo. Aomame is a fitness instructor and murderer. Tengo is a teacher of mathematics and commits fraude. At first sight they have nothing in common but as the story progresses it becomes clear that their paths crossed a long time ago and it looks like this is going to happen again. But how? Aomame falls into a parallel world that she calls 1Q84.”

Parallel worlds? I love it! Reminds me of Hard-Boiled Wonderland or the End of the World by the same writer.

So, 1Q84 is what I’ll be reading for the Japanese Literature Challenge.

How about you? Will you join in too?

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki MurakamiThis book was a re-read for me. I must have read it about ten years ago, and it was my first Murakami. For some reason, I then didn’t read any others for several years, until I came (back) to the Netherlands, 5 years ago, where Murakami is pretty big.

I’ve read most of his available books since, although I have a few more to go. My favorites are Hard-Boiled Wonderland and  A Wild Sheep Chase.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: What it’s about

Ha, what it’s about, I ask? Would you like the short version or the long one (600 pages of small print)? Let’s try the short version:

Toru Okada lives with his wife in a rented house. He is unemployed while his wife is making long hours at her job at a publisher’s. When their cat goes missing, he enters the alley behind their house and a lot of events begin to unfold.

He meets a 16-year old girl that shows him an abandoned house nearby with a dried-up well. He meets two sisters that offer to help him find back his cat, and later also his wife, who also disappears. He also encounters a Lieutenant from the second World War and a woman and her son who make their money in a very odd way. Then there is the awful brother in law who plays a more important role as the story progresses.

All these people have their own story which do in various ways have their effect or relation with Toru.

In the end, some of the strands of the story come together, but a lot is left to the reader.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: What I thought

This book reinforces to me what a great storyteller Murakami is. There were many stories within the larger story and I found each and all of them interesting. I think this is not so much the story, well, not just the story, but especially the way it is written.

It’s like candy to me. Every sentence is somehow just right. And I want to read more, and more. It’s like arriving in a place where you feel safe and happy. What can I say? Murakami writes in a way that is perfect for me!

I recognised some themes from other books by Murakami: so is there a dark hotel with many corridors where Toru has to find his way. A hotel without any lights was also present in Dance, Dance, Dance. In Kafka on the Shore, I’m pretty sure the protagonist, Kafka, goes to Malta or a country nearby, while in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, one of the people Toru meets is Malta Kano, who lived on the island of Malta for a while. Then, of course, there is Toru’s cat who goes missing, while in Kafka on the Shore cats play a large role, too. And there are probably more themes that I missed.

While I found The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles a satifactory read, I’m 100% sure I missed lots of references and lots of links between parts of the story. Rather than trying to figure it out for myself, I hope someone else has the answers for me, if there are any answers, that is.

Rating: 5/5 and a favorite

I got this book: from The Book Depository as I wanted to own it. I read it for the Japanese Literature Challenge

I read this in: English, the original language is Japanese.

Extra: Also check out my review of Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami

Japanese Literature Challenge

Other reviews:

Lucybird’s Book Blog

In Dutch- Elsje Las

Let me link to yours!

Japanese Literature Challenge

Japanese Literature ChallengeThe 4th Japanese Literature Challenge is hosted by Dolce Bellezza. It’s very simple:  read one or more works of Japanese literature between June 1, 2010 and January 30, 2011.

Leave your name on Dolce Bellezza’s blog, so you’re officially part of the challenge.

Just to be able to put this beautiful picture on your blog would be a reason to join in!

As I’d probably read one or two Japanese books in that period anyway, I’ll go for a target of 3 books. Yes, that’s not all that much, but I’m also doing some other challenges and book group reads, so 3 Japanese Literature books will be a challenge for me.

What shall I read?

1. I’ve read almost everything by Haruki Murakami, but I haven’t read What I Talk About When I Talk about Running. I doubt that it will inspire me to start running, as that is one thing I’ve never enjoyed. But it’ll be fun to read what Murakami has to say about it.

2. Another favorite writer of mine is Kazuo Ishiguro. I have read three of his books, the outstandingly brilliant The Remains of the Day and the great dystopian novel Never Let me Go. I also read When We were Orphans, which story I confuse in my mind with Number9Dream by David Mitchell. Anyway, if you ask me, it’s time to read The Unconsoled.

3. Thirdly, Out by Natsuo Kirino has been on my TBR for some time now. And I hear it’s a brilliant book. So, that’s number 3.

Will you join in too?

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