“Lit” Pick of the week: “Norwegian Wood” by Haruki Murakami

Radar is committed to all forms of art and entertainment and as such, will pick one book as a reading recommendation every week. This week, Radar’s “Lit” pick is “Norwegian Wood” by Haruki Murakami.

Courtesy of Kodansha

Bearing the name of The Beatles’ track of the same name, Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami’s “Norwegian Wood” is a 1987 coming-of-age novel about love and death set against the nostalgic backdrop of 1960s Tokyo. The source of nostalgia is in the memory of the novel’s protagonist, Toru Watanabe, who looks back on his years as a college youth and the experiences he had that shaped who he is in the present time.

The novel is flavored with melancholy the same way winter is with the cold; Watanabe experiences the pain of loss — both the loss of life and relationships — that slowly takes over his life as a student, turning him into a young man obsessively consumed with his relationships both platonic and romantic. Murakami’s prose is stripped and observational, noting the nuances of Watanabe’s gaze — be it a stroll in the woods, discovery of death or sexual encounter — elegantly.

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