The Wind-up Bird Chronicle: A Novel

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle: A Novel

Paperback | September 1, 1998

byHaruki Murakami

not yet rated|write a review
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.

Pricing and Purchase Info

$14.36 online
$19.95 list price (save 28%)
In stock online
Ships free on orders over $25
Prices may vary. why?
Please call ahead to confirm inventory.

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle: A Novel

Paperback | September 1, 1998
In stock online Available in stores
$14.36 online $19.95 (save 28%)

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 dete...

From the Publisher

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 ...

From the Jacket

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 ...

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,...

other books by Haruki Murakami

Norwegian Wood
Norwegian Wood

Paperback|Sep 12 2000

$13.24 online$18.00list price(save 26%)

Paperback|Jan 22 2013

$17.95 online$24.00list price(save 25%)
Kafka on the Shore
Kafka on the Shore

Paperback|Jan 3 2006

$13.19 online$21.00list price(save 37%)
see all books by Haruki Murakami
Format:PaperbackDimensions:624 pages, 7.93 × 5.15 × 1.37 inPublished:September 1, 1998Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0679775439

ISBN - 13:9780679775430

Look for similar items by category:

Must Read Books


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 out of 5 by from Good The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami is a long novel that is 607 pages, but it is written very well with a great amount of details just where they are needed. It is similar to a detective story, where the protagonist goes on a chase, first for his missing cat, and next for his missing wife. I did not like the ending so much because it did not give proper closure of the lives of the many people that were seen throughout the novel. Toru Okada quits his job one day because he feels that he is not satisfied with it. His cat soon goes missing and that starts his peculiar adventure. Soon after, his wife Kumiko disappears as well. Toru Okada meets many odd people in his quest to find his cat and wife. There is Malta Kano, a psychic; Creta Kana, a psychic prostitute, who declares that she was raped by Kumiko's brother, Noboru Wataya; May Kasahara, a troubled teen that is Okada’s neighbour; Lieutenant Mamiya, a soldier that tells about WWII; Nutmeg Akasaka, a secretive healer; and Cinnamon Akasaka, Nutmeg's son that stopped talking when he was a child. There are strange coincidences that link these people together. The wind-up bird that is heard throughout the novel and refers to an odd and unseen bird, whose sounds are only heard. The wind-up bird foreshadows evil. Okada feels that the bird turns the spring of the world to keep it going, because that is what it sounds like. Will Okada ever find his missing cat and wife? Does Noboru Wataya have anything to do in the matter? What do the many strange individuals that Okada met have in common? Discover a strange world that Okada uncovers through the numerous individuals that he meets. I enjoyed Haruki Murakami's Hard-boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World better because it was more interesting and shorter.
Date published: 2008-06-20
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

Extra Content

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