The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

80%

22 Critic Reviews

Ingeniously, Murakami links history to a detective story that uses a mannered realism and metaphysical speculation to catapult the narrator into the surreal place where mysteries are solved and evil is confronted.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

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.
 

About Haruki Murakami

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Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into forty-two languages. The most recent of his many honours is the Franz Kafka Prize.From the Hardcover edition.
 
Published August 11, 2010 by Vintage. 623 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Romance, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
All: 22 | Positive: 19 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Excellent
on May 20 2010

Not merely a big book from the broadly respected Murakami...but a major work bringing signature themes of alienation, dislocation, and nameless fears through the saga of a gentle man forced to trade the familiar for the utterly unknown...this is a fully mature, engrossing tale of individual and national destinies entwined.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Dec 14 2015

Ingeniously, Murakami links history to a detective story that uses a mannered realism and metaphysical speculation to catapult the narrator into the surreal place where mysteries are solved and evil is confronted.

Read Full Review of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Oct 31 1997

``Wind-Up Bird'' has some powerful scenes of antic comedy and some shattering scenes of historical power, but such moments do not add up to a satisfying, fully fashioned novel...often seems so messy that its refusal of closure feels less like an artistic choice than simple laziness...

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Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by Ted Gioia on Jul 11 2009

But when you add it up, the numbers don’t really compute—not the way readers have come to expect from most novels. In a different age, this might have been Oriental “otherness.” Then again, in the future they might just label it as Murakami-esque.

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Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by Murphy on Aug 16 2005

I am going to find more of this guy’s books. As an avid reader, this blew my mind away. If you are looking for a good chewy book, this will not disappoint.

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Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by Murphy on Aug 16 2005

His book,The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, has some of the most far out things happen. Toru Okada, the hero of the story, lives an ordered logical life in which occur the most surprising and illogical experiences...I could not put the book down. More than 600 pages, and I could not put it down until the end. I am still thinking about it days later.

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Blog Critics

Above average
Reviewed by Daryl on Feb 12 2005

It’s true that the plot of the novel doesn’t quite cohere even at the end. Perhaps the various strands once unleashed were too numerous to pull together. But perhaps, too, feeling is first, and the inescapable aesthetic and philosophical responses to The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle means the novel is one that sears itself into your consciousness.

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Examiner

Excellent
Reviewed by Sean Chumley on Feb 08 2014

The novel's premise is almost too sparse to seem to comfortably support its length, but Murakami makes a man looking for his cat worthy of 600 pages. With an oddball cast of characters...Haruki Murakami shows that his ability to craft a profound story around unlikely people lands unparalleled among other writers.

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Entertainment Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Vanessa V. Friedman on Jan 17 2015

Toru Okada, the protagonist of this Japanese bildungsroman, is an utterly normal man to whom utterly abnormal things happen...at heart this is an old-fashioned story of emotional growth covered with a veneer of surrealism. Toru, we’re not in Tokyo anymore.

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About.com

Above average
Reviewed by Mark Flanagan on May 21 2015

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a metaphysical roller coaster ride that involves both Toru's search for his estranged wife...The novel proceeds with the arrival and departure of so many mysterious characters and subplots, it becomes unlikely that the author will ever tie the ever-increasing threads into a cohesive unit. And ultimately, he doesn't.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on May 16 2015

Ingeniously, Murakami links history to a detective story that uses a mannered realism and metaphysical speculation to catapult the narrator into the surreal place where mysteries are solved and evil is confronted.

Read Full Review of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

BookDragon

Above average
Reviewed by BookDragon on Oct 18 2011

Rediscovering Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle a decade-plus after initial reading has been quite the wide-eyed adventure indeed...Welcome to another of Murakami’s addictive fantastical worlds, an extreme mix of sometimes brutal reality and escapist journeys where, in spite of the stomach-churning speed, you’ll never want to leave

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The Express Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Karthik Keramalu on Jul 13 2014

A passive reading of the book offers no pleasure, as reality and dreams quite often mix, and it takes a complete sensory indulgence to separate and understand them. Simply put, Murakami’s novel cannot be explained, it has to be experienced.

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Publishers Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Seth Satterlee on Oct 11 2013

Like other young and disillusioned males, I found Murakami to be a voice of calm during a hectic time of life...depict listless college students and corporate drop-outs struggling against the deadening efficiency of the Japanese economic machine. Its a thread that runs through all his novels and finds its zenith in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

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Spin

Above average
Reviewed by Rachel Brodsky on Oct 05 2015

But Smith is not one to plant her feet on the ground for long — the book frequently hurtles us back to lost moments in time...Each break from reality ends up processed into a life lesson of sorts, as only Smith can articulate.

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Leeswammes' Blog

Excellent
Reviewed by Leeswammes on Nov 21 2010

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...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...Murakami writes in a way that is perfect for me!

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The Book Stop

Good
Reviewed by curlygeek04 on May 16 2013

This was my second book by Haruki Murakami, and it blew me away. There’s so much in this book, I don’t know where to start...My favorite character was May Kasahara, the teenage girl down the street. He writes her with such a unique voice, unlike the other characters who seem to blend into each other at times.

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Women 24

Above average
Reviewed by Jenna van Schoor on Jun 21 2012

In true Murakami style, the story is a complex narrative that interweaves everything from Japanese military history to the daily musings of Okada’s lonely existence, the strange people he meets, and the search for his cat, and wife Kumiko...After I put the book down, I tried to figure out how everything connected together.

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The Introverted Reader

Above average
Reviewed by Introverted Jen on Feb 10 2012

There's a lot going on in this book. Basically, Toru Okada has just quit his job in Tokyo and all kinds of strange people enter and leave his life...The style of the book is very dreamy, and there are so many dreams and what-might-have-beens that I was never entirely sure what was really happening and what wasn't.

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https://bookpeopleblog.wordpress.com

Good
Reviewed by Kester on Sep 27 2011

...Wind-Up Bird Chronicle can feel disjointed and confused. Murakami’s brilliance is revealed in the fact that this confusion only piques our interest instead of diminishing it. What would simply be a fruitless and frustrating exercise in the hands of a lesser author is an exciting and frightening experience instead.

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Benefits of a Classical Education Blog

Above average
Reviewed by Alex Thompson on Aug 15 2012

It’s a powerful, whimsical, terrifying, and supremely odd book that is about practically everything you can write a book about...The climax of the book is a wonderfully surreal scene played out entirely in darkness. Things happen, but you really don’t know what they are...It’s a visual idea that works wonderfully on the page...

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Odd Engine

Excellent
Reviewed by Peter on Oct 12 2012

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a tremendous achievement, rich in character and complete with the hyperbolic world both Toru and Kumiko occupy...Despite the looseness of the narrative, the characters and surreal depiction of the human condition struck a chord with me. It is an intelligent read with enough puzzles to keep the reader guessing.

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Reader Rating for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
81%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 1075 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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Katrina Bernardo

Katrina Bernardo 5 Sep 2013

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