The Wind-up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki MurakamiThe Wind-up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki Murakami

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle: A Novel

byHaruki Murakami

Paperback | September 1, 1998

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Japan's most highly regarded novelist now vaults into the first ranks of international fiction writers with this heroically imaginative novel, which is at once a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II.

In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's missing cat.  Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo.  As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid sixteen-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan's forgotten campaign in Manchuria.

Gripping, prophetic, suffused with comedy and menace, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a tour de force equal in scope to the masterpieces of Mishima and Pynchon.
Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo.  The most recent of his many honors is the Yomiuri Literary Prize, whose previous recipients include Yukio Mishima, Kenzaburo Oe, and Kobo Abe.  He is the author of the novels Dance, Dance, Dance, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and A Wild Sheep Chase,...
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Title:The Wind-up Bird Chronicle: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:624 pages, 8 × 5.2 × 1.3 inPublished:September 1, 1998Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0679775439

ISBN - 13:9780679775430

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Classic postmodern classic - made my head spin!
Date published: 2017-09-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So good! Now I know why everyone's obsessed with Murakami... this book was amazing!
Date published: 2017-08-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Surreal Like all the other works of M, this one also pulls in the reader; i could not put this down! Though this one took more time in the beginning to set the story in place, it hooked the reader up real quick! Another excellent work that must be read by fans of M!
Date published: 2017-08-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favourites Surreal and provoking, a must read for any fan of Murakami's. One of his best. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-07-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wow A little disturbing, but surreal, and deeply thought-provoking.
Date published: 2017-06-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Dreamlike Throughout most of the book, it feels like you're in a dream as you're reading the main character's perspective. Things seem unclear, as if you're wading through a body of water. Things can be sometimes predicable but even when they are, it's hard to be sure your predications did happen in the book. Interesting novel.
Date published: 2017-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A forever favourite This is a book I could read again and again. It was the first Murakami novel I ever read and to this day remains my favourite. There's something so bizarre and magical about it, it pulls you into a different world while being totally grounded in reality all at once. Murakami is a master and this novel really showcases that.
Date published: 2017-05-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from loved my first Murakami. blew me away.
Date published: 2017-04-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from What I crave by Murakami This gets a bit slow in the middle but by the end you're hooked and can't wait to get to the end. It's what I love about Murakami.. it's so incredibly odd, you wonder how he could have imagined it. You will be thinking about this story and these characters long after you are finished the book
Date published: 2017-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Best of Murakami This book is by far my favourite Murakami book. Something about it just pulls me in. I'm in love with this dark, disturbing and almost eerie feeling story, which makes you question everyone around you.
Date published: 2017-02-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Takes time to get into The beginning of the story is a bit slow for me. It takes time for you to get into the flow of things but overall the book stays true to Murakami's signature style, which I absolutely love. Good book and overall enjoyed the mysterious nature of the storyline!
Date published: 2017-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow His prose is elegant and plots ingenious. I find that everything is so closely interwoven that the story simply flows.
Date published: 2017-01-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Long, and odd, not bad but odd. I probably would have enjoyed it more if it was broken down into the three separate books just for more of an accomplishment. I didn't dislike it but I can't even start to summarise the book, it's almost like a bunch of essays that are all attached to this one man looking for his cat and wife with a crazy dislike for his evil politic of a bother in law. I don't know for a recommendation read if you want don't if you don't want, nothing gained nothing lost.
Date published: 2017-01-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautifully Odd This was my second Murakami and he did not disappoint. I usually turn to the first page of a Murakami novel with intention to just get in the boat and let him steer. To call this story creative doesn't do it service - part fantasy, part acid trip, part mystery and all-encompassing. I'm not always sure I understand what he's getting at, but I was not disappointed when I put this down. If you are tired of the predictable, plotline-by-numbers drivel that is prevalent nowadays...pick this one up.
Date published: 2016-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very colourful Another great book by Murakami. His ability to make the most mundane of tasks and people a colourful story by plummeting them into strange situations is artistic and skillful. His writing is descriptive and so the images come very easy. You'll definitely find yourself immersed in the world and surroundings that Murakami has created. My favourite would be the descriptions of the morbid dreams that our protagonist has. This novel is very well crafted.
Date published: 2016-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must-read for Murakami fans This was my first Murakami read which has led me to want to read all of his other books (which I am currently in the process of doing). The plot is undeniably intriguing and will keep you wanting to read more. I recommend this book to readers of all levels, it is a fantastic book.
Date published: 2016-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brace yourself, it's one heck of a ride This was the first Murakami book I picked up and am very glad I did. Prepare to be taken on a roller coaster ride like no other.
Date published: 2016-09-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brace your self for another mind boggling, f$%k of tale! Murakami once again hurls his audience into a dark and bold novel of modern Japan. In the span of well over 600 pages, he seamlessly weaves an intricate web of Japans dark history in World II into a refined, page-turning detective, mystical story about a simple man named Toru Okada who undergoes a series of life changes that eventually lead him into an underworld where he searches for answers revolving around the wife that left him, the significance of a bird whose presence is affiliated with impending doom, and a house that ruins the lives of those who inhabit it. Once again, Murakami brings to the table his fine ability to tell a story that dwells deep into the pysche, leaving the reader with questions unanswered. As in most of his novels, he explores such compelling themes such as isolation, existentialism, and reality vs. fantasy in greater depth and presents them in a variety of strange, yet apathetic characters. The story is balanced carefully between intriguing conversations, horrific stories from Japan's involvement in Manchukuo, bizarre dream sequences, personal thoughts about the meaning of life and finally...everyday routines. Yes. Don't expect the story to go by without Murakami's signature - bringing out lifes' most serene qualities with the utmost descriptive narrating. There are plenty of cooking, cleaning, walking, and leisurely scenes littered through out the story which only serve to bring out the disturbingly calm realism of a day in the life of an ordinary person, thus, causing the reader to sympathize towards the protagonist of the story. So if you like cooking, sex-craved emotionally disturbed women who hang around you 24/7, rhythmic story-telling, human mutilation, metaphysics, pitch black rooms, and the feeling that the world inside a novel is reaching it's 'long arms' to slap you in the face and challenge you to question the nature of your very own existence here on Earth, then I encourage you to go get your copy. This bird will wind you into something alright... ;)
Date published: 2015-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must-read Vintage Murakami. I still don’t really know what happened in it, but the ride was most worthwhile. A must-read.
Date published: 2014-11-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing My favorite book of the year, an dreamy surrealist tale.
Date published: 2014-07-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from bom. Hard to put down, even for a few minutes. A crumbled marriage, a surreal nightmarish alter-world, and a (s)punky neighbor catapult Toru Okada into a discovery of his own and his ancestors past and present. Excellent.
Date published: 2013-10-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Gloomy chronicle The story has too many layers, sometimes the layers are not even link each other. The plot is complicated, emotionally written & hard to predict. Since it was the third time for me to read his book, one thing that i always find it similar with the rest is the dark setting.
Date published: 2013-08-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Audio book version got me through this Toru Okada is in the midst of much more than a mid-life crisis. He quit his legal job and has yet to search for a new position. His wife, Kumiko, has been acting out of character and is fretting about their lost cat. To top it all off, an unknown woman has been calling him on the phone and is making very suggestive conversation. I listened to the Naxos Audiobook version read by Rupert Degas. Great job on the various characters. I had no trouble telling when characters changed. At 26 hours, this is a very long story, though it seemed as though it was several novellas all linked together by common elements of flow and water. Mr. Murakami has put together a most unlikely group of characters. Right from the first, I didn't like Kumiko's brother , Noboru Wataya. He didn't seem to have any human qualities. More a logic machine than something alive. May Kasahara was a gem. She was that precocious teen that had a question about everything and wanted a true answer. I looked forward to her appearance in the story. I think that my favourite character was Lieutenant Mamiya. When he told a story, I wanted to pull over to the side of the road and just listen. I didn't want to have to pay attention to the traffic; I just wanted to listen. His stories were fascinating and quite likely could have been true. It was interesting that while Toru was trying to hang onto his marriage, all sorts of other females kept intruding into his life. May, the unusual physic sisters Malta and Creta and the mysterious Nutmeg. With no attempt at enticing them, all these women seemed to flock toward him. Why? All in all, I found this an unusual book. It kept coming back to 'flow'. That un-resolved issues in Toru's life had interrupted his 'flow' and that until he corrected them, his life would not be settled. I would have had a hard time reading a paper version of this book. It wasn't something I could listen to in huge chunks of time, but rather for shorter periods, with lots of time to digest what had happened in the various chapters. If you have tried to read the book and found it hard to stick with, give the audio book a try in smaller bits. It worked for me.
Date published: 2011-04-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Let the bird wind you up for your journey I get bored by chunky passages of descriptions on appearances, sceneries or tasks in fiction novels. Being a 600-pager, "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle" does have a good portion of detailed words, yet I enjoyed every use of them. Murakami writes of daily regular routines or of things resembling some sort of normalcy, with partly supernatural elements (this is normal?!) and with fascinating characters. Damaged, regretful, strong-willed, naive, loving - all common people. He creates events that lead them towards becoming extraordinary. Stories within stories, there is a variety for the reader and the passing of each one builds this chronicle of Toru Okada's journey to an accustomed life once more. The author never ceases to amaze me. This is but my second one, and I will be sure to read others of his even more now.
Date published: 2010-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible! This is an wonderful story and very well told. I wasn't always sure where the story was going but it was always an engrossing, fascinating read.
Date published: 2006-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Brilliant Murakami is a genius: he writes about things so fantastic yet absolutely ordinary at the same time.
Date published: 2006-06-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A DEEP DESIRE QUENCHED There are a hand full of books that dare to provoke such lucid and engaging a world for ones minds eye to venture. Murakami is for me what no other literature or film of late has been capable of achieving. He is a true master who paints telling worlds in broad strokes with characters some we have known, some we have read and some unlike any. They are souls and details that weave simple yet complex intersecting stories of mystery, love, wonderment, memory and loss. The man does not skim or fluff such common themes. He is a master of twisting and redifing archetype. Just read the darn thing
Date published: 2001-04-30

Read from the Book

Book One: The Thieving MagpieJune and July 19841 Tuesday's Wind-Up Bird •Six Fingers and Four Breasts When the phone rang I was in the kitchen, boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along with an FM broadcast of the overture to Rossini's The Thieving Magpie, which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta. I wanted to ignore the phone, not only because the spaghetti was nearly done, but because Claudio Abbado was bringing the London Symphony to its musical climax. Finally, though, I had to give in. It could have been somebody with news of a job opening. I lowered the flame, went to the living room, and picked up the receiver. "Ten minutes, please," said a woman on the other end. I'm good at recognizing people's voices, but this was not one I knew. "Excuse me? To whom did you wish to speak?" "To you, of course. Ten minutes, please. That's all we need to understand each other." Her voice was low and soft but otherwise nondescript. "Understand each other?" "Each other's feelings." I leaned over and peeked through the kitchen door. The spaghetti pot was steaming nicely, and Claudio Abbado was still conducting The Thieving Magpie. "Sorry, but you caught me in the middle of making spaghetti. Can I ask you to call back later?" "Spaghetti? What are you doing cooking spaghetti at ten-thirty in the morning?" "That's none of your business," I said. "I decide what I eat and when I eat it." "True enough. I'll call back," she said, her voice now flat and expressionless. A little change in mood can do amazing things to the tone of a person's voice. "Hold on a minute," I said before she could hang up. "If this is some new sales gimmick, you can forget it. I'm out of work. I'm not in the market for anything." "Don't worry. I know." "You know? You know what?" "That you're out of work. I know about that. So go cook your precious spaghetti." "Who the hell--" She cut the connection. With no outlet for my feelings, I stared at the phone in my hand until I remembered the spaghetti. Back in the kitchen, I turned off the gas and poured the contents of the pot into a colander. Thanks to the phone call, the spaghetti was a little softer than al dente, but it had not been dealt a mortal blow. I started eating--and thinking. Understand each other? Understand each other's feelings in ten minutes? What was she talking about? Maybe it was just a prank call. Or some new sales pitch. In any case, it had nothing to do with me. After lunch, I went back to my library novel on the living room sofa, glancing every now and then at the telephone. What were we supposed to understand about each other in ten minutes? What can two people understand about each other in ten minutes? Come to think of it, she seemed awfully sure about those ten minutes: it was the first thing out of her mouth. As if nine minutes would be too short or eleven minutes too long. Like cooking spaghetti al dente. I couldn't read anymore. I decided to iron shirts instead. Which is what I always do when I'm upset. It's an old habit. I divide the job into twelve precise stages, beginning with the collar (outer surface) and ending with the left-hand cuff. The order is always the same, and I count off each stage to myself. Otherwise, it won't come out right. I ironed three shirts, checking them over for wrinkles and putting them on hangers. Once I had switched off the iron and put it away with the ironing board in the hall closet, my mind felt a good deal clearer. I was on my way to the kitchen for a glass of water when the phone rang again. I hesitated for a second but decided to answer it. If it was the same woman, I'd tell her I was ironing and hang up. This time it was Kumiko. The wall clock said eleven-thirty. "How are you?" she asked. "Fine," I said, relieved to hear my wife's voice. "What are you doing?" "Just finished ironing." "What's wrong?" There was a note of tension in her voice. She knew what it meant for me to be ironing. "Nothing. I was just ironing some shirts." I sat down and shifted the receiver from my left hand to my right. "What's up?" "Can you write poetry?" she asked. "Poetry!?" Poetry? Did she mean . . . poetry? "I know the publisher of a story magazine for girls. They're looking for somebody to pick and revise poems submitted by readers. And they want the person to write a short poem every month for the frontispiece. Pay's not bad for an easy job. Of course, it's part-time. But they might add some editorial work if the person--" "Easy work"? I broke in. "Hey, wait a minute. I'm looking for something in law, not poetry." "I thought you did some writing in high school." "Yeah, sure, for the school newspaper: which team won the soccer championship or how the physics teacher fell down the stairs and ended up in the hospital--that kind of stuff. Not poetry. I can't write poetry." "Sure, but I'm not talking about great poetry, just something for high school girls. It doesn't have to find a place in literary history. You could do it with your eyes closed. Don't you see?" "Look, I just can't write poetry--eyes open or closed. I've never done it, and I'm not going to start now." "All right," said Kumiko, with a hint of regret. "But it's hard to find legal work." "I know. That's why I've got so many feelers out. I should be hearing something this week. If it's no go, I'll think about doing something else." "Well, I supposed that's that. By the way, what's today? What day of the week?" I thought a moment and said, "Tuesday." "Then will you go to the bank and pay the gas and telephone?" "Sure. I was just about to go shopping for dinner anyway." "What are you planning to make?" "I don't know yet. I'll decide when I'm shopping." She paused. "Come to think of it," she said, with a new seriousness, "there's no great hurry about your finding a job." This took me off guard. "Why's that?" I asked. Had the women of the world chosen today to surprise me on the telephone? "My unemployment's going to run out sooner or later. I can't keep hanging around forever." "True, but with my raise and occasional side jobs and our savings, we can get by OK if we're careful. There's no real emergency. Do you hate staying at home like this and doing housework? I mean, is this life so wrong for you?" "I don't know," I answered honestly. I really didn't know. "Well, take your time and give it some thought," she said. "Anyhow, has the cat come back?" The cat. I hadn't thought about the cat all morning. "No," I said. "Not yet." "Can you please have a look around the neighborhood? It's been gone over a week now." I gave a noncommittal grunt and shifted the receiver back to my left hand. She went on: "I'm almost certain it's hanging around the empty house at the other end of the alley. The one with the bird statue in the yard. I've seen it in there several times." "The alley?" Since when have you been going to the alley? You've never said anything--" "Oops! Got to run. Lots of work to do. Don't forget about the cat." She hung up. I found myself staring at the receiver again. Then I set it down in its cradle. I wondered what had brought Kumiko to the alley. To get there from our house, you had to climb over a cinder-block wall. And once you'd made the effort, there was no point in being there. I went to the kitchen for a glass of water, then out to the veranda to look at the cat's dish. The mound of sardines was untouched from last night. No, the cat had not come back. I stood there looking at our small garden, with the early-summer sunshine streaming into it. Not that ours was the kind of garden that gives you spiritual solace to look at. The sun managed to find its way in there for the smallest fraction of each day, so the earth was always black and moist, and all we had by way of garden plants were a few drab hydrangeas in one corner--and I don't like hydrangeas. There was a small strand of trees nearby, and from it you could hear the mechanical cry of a bird that sounded as if it were winding a spring. We called it the wind-up bird. Kumiko gave it the name. We didn't know what it was really called or what it looked like, but that didn't bother the wind-up bird. Every day it would come to the stand of trees in our neighborhood and wind the spring of our quiet little world. So now I had to go cat hunting. I had always liked cats. And I liked this particular cat. But cats have their own way of living. They're not stupid. If a cat stopped living where you happened to be, that meant it had decided to go somewhere else. If it got tired and hungry, it would come back. Finally, though, to keep Kumiko happy, I would have to go looking for our cat. I had nothing better to do. •I had quit my job at the beginning of April--the law job I had had since graduation. Not that I had quit for any special reason. I didn't dislike the work. It wasn't thrilling, but the pay was all right and the office atmosphere was friendly. My role at the firm was--not to put too fine a point on it--that of professional gofer. And I was good at it. I might say I have a real talent for the execution of such practical duties. I'm a quick study, efficient, I never complain, and I'm realistic. Which is why, when I said I wanted to quit, the senior partner (the father in this father-and-son law firm) went so far as to offer me a small raise. But I quit just the same. Not that quitting would help me realize any particular hopes or prospects. The last thing I wanted to do, for example, was shut myself up in the house and study for the bar exam. I was surer than ever that I didn't want to become a lawyer. I knew, too, that I didn't want to stay where I was and continue with the job I had. If I was going to quit, now was the time to do it. If I stayed with the firm any longer, I'd be there for the rest of my life. I was thirty years old, after all. I had told Kumiko at the dinner table that I was thinking of quitting my job. Her only response had been, "I see." I didn't know what she meant by that, but for a while she said nothing more. I kept silent too, until she added, "If you want to quit, you should quit. It's your life, and you should live it the way you want to." Having said this much, she then became involved in picking out fish bones with her chopsticks and moving them to the edge of her plate. Kumiko earned pretty good pay as editor of a health food magazine, and she would occasionally take on illustration assignments from editor friends at other magazines to earn substantial additional income. (She had studied design in college and had hoped to be a freelance illustrator.) In addition, if I quit I would have my own income for a while from unemployment insurance. Which meant that even if I stayed home and took care of the house, we would still have enough extras such as eating out and paying the cleaning bill, and our lifestyle would hardly change. And so I had quit my job. • I was loading groceries into the refrigerator when the phone rang. The ringing seemed to have an impatient edge to it this time. I had just ripped open a plastic pack of tofu, which I set down carefully on the kitchen table to keep the water from spilling out. I went to the living room and picked up the phone. "You must have finished your spaghetti by now," said the woman. "You're right. But now I have to go look for the cat." "That can wait for ten minutes, I'm sure. It's not like cooking spaghetti." For some reason, I couldn't just hang up on her. There was something about her voice that commanded my attention. "OK, but no more than ten minutes." "Now we'll be able to understand each other," she said with quiet certainty. I sensed her settling comfortable into a chair and crossing her legs. "I wonder," I said. "What can you understand in ten minutes?" "Ten minutes may be longer than you think," she said. "Are you sure you know me?" "Of course I do. We've met hundreds of times." "Where? When?" "Somewhere, sometime," she said. "But if I went into that, ten minutes would never be enough. What's important is the time we have now. The present. Don't you agree?" "Maybe. But I'd like some proof that you know me." "What kind of proof?" "My age, say?" "Thirty," she answered instantaneously."Thirty and two months. Good enough?" That shut me up. She obviously did know me, but I had absolutely no memory of her voice. "Now it's your turn," she said, her voice seductive. "Try picturing me. From my voice. Imagine what I'm like. My age. Where I am. How I'm dressed. Go ahead." "I have no idea," I said. "Oh, come on," she said. "Try." I looked at my watch. Only a minute and five seconds had gone by. "I have no idea," I said again.

From Our Editors

Toru Okada's search for his wife's missing cat leads him into an unimagined world beneath Tokyo's unruffled suburbs. Psychic prostitutes, gruesome teenagers and damaging politicians people this strange underworld, and an aging war veteran haunted by Japan's campaign in Manchuria. This highly-imaginative novel is at once a gripping detective tale and a moving look at the Second World War's hidden secrets. Haruki Murakami, Japan's most highly-regarded living novelist, weaves a gripping, dream-like tale in his widely acclaimed The Wind Up Bird Chronicle.

Editorial Reviews

“Dreamlike and compelling. . . . Murakami is a genius.” —Chicago Tribune “Mesmerizing. . . . Murakami’s most ambitious attempt yet to stuff all of modern Japan into a single fictional edifice.” —The Washington Post Book World “A significant advance in Murakami’s art . . . a bold and generous book.” —The New York Times Book Review “A stunning work of art . . . that bears no comparisons.” —New York Observer “With The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Murakami spreads his brilliant, fantastical wings and soars.” —Philadelphia Inquirer “Seductive. . . . A labyrinth designed by a master, at once familiar and irresistibly strange.” —San Francisco Chronicle “An epic . . . as sculpted and implacable as a bird by Brancusi.” —New York Magazine “Mesmerizing, original . . . fascinating, daring, mysterious and profoundly rewarding.” —Baltimore Sun “A beguiling sense of mystery suffuses The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and draws us irresistibly and ever deeper into the phantasmagoria of pain and memory. . . . Compelling [and] convincing.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review “Digs relentlessly into the buried secrets of Japan’s past . . . brilliantly translated into the latest vernacular.” —Pico Iyer, Time