Original Title: Noruwei no Mori; ノルウェイの森
Author: Haruki Murakami (Japan)
First published on: 1987
Language: English (translated)
Original Language: Japanese
Translator: Jay Rubin
Publisher: Vintage Books (vintagebooks.com)
“But I’m not the only one to blame,” Midori continued. “It’s true that I’ve got a cold streak. I recognize that. But if they-my father and mother-had loved me a little more, I would have been able to feel more-to feel real sadness, for example.”
“Do you think you weren’t loved enough?”
She tilted her head and looked at me. Then she gave a sharp little nod. “Somewhere between ‘not enough’ and ‘not at all.’ I was always hungry for love. Just once, I wanted to know what it was like to get my fill of it-to be fed so much love I couldn’t take any more. Just once. But they never gave that to me. Never, not once. If I tried to cuddle up and beg for something, they’d just shove me away and yell at me. ‘No! That costs too much!’ It’s all I ever heard. So I made up my mind I was going to find someone who would love me unconditionally three hundred and sixty-five days a year. I was still in elementary school at the time-fifth or sixth grade-but I made up my mind once and for all”
“Wow,” I said. “And did your search pay off?”
“That’s the hard part,” said Midori. She watched the rising smoke for a while, thinking. “I guess I’ve been waiting so long I’m looking for perfection. That makes it tough.”
“Waiting for the perfect love?”
“No, even I know better than that. I’m looking for selfishness. Perfect selfishness. Like, say I tell you I want to eat strawberry shortcake. And you stop everything you’re doing and run out and buy it for me. And you come back out of breath and get down on my knees and hold this strawberry shortcake out to me. And I say I don’t want it anymore and throw it out the window. That’s what I’m looking for.”
“I’m not sure that has anything to do with love,” I said with some amazement.
“It does,” she said. “You just don’t know it. There are times in a girl’s life when things like that are incredibly important.”
“Things like throwing strawberry shortcake out the window?”
“Exactly. And when I do it, I want the man to apologize to me. ‘Now I see, Midori. What a fool I’ve been! I should have known that you would lose your desire for strawberry shortcake. I have all the intelligence and sensitivity of a piece of donkey shit. To make it up to you, I’ll go out and buy you something else. What would you like? Chocolate mousse? Cheesecake?”
“So then what?”
“So then I’d give him all the love he deserves for what he’s done.”
“Sounds crazy to me.”
About the Book:
[From Wikipedia and Goodreads.com]
Norwegian Wood tell a nostalgic story of loss and burgeoning sexuality. It is told from the first-person perspective of Toru Watanabe, who looks back on his days as a college student living in Tokyo. Through Watanabe’s reminiscences the readers can see him develop relationships with two very different women — the beautiful yet emotionally troubled Naoko, and the outgoing, lively Midori.
Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.
The novel is set in Tokyo during the late 1960s, at a time when Japanese students, like those of many other nations, were protesting against the established order.[ “Norwegian Wood” tells a poignant story of one college student’s romantic coming-of-age. This story takes us to that distant place of a young man’s first, hopeless, and heroic love.
Murakami adapted the first section of the novel from an earlier short story, “Firefly”.
“Norwegian Wood” is the second work and book of Haruki Murakami that I’ve read. And after I finished reading this, Haruki Murakami have become one of my most favourite author ever. I know it’s late. But better late than never. In this book I really admire how Murakami can describe the emotion of a girl so clearly and precisely. It’s not an easy thing to do for a writer to write a feeling or an expression of attitude for a character who are the opposite sex. Midori’s character is a figure that will be very difficult to be written and told in detail by a man. But in my opinion Murakami managed to expressed it very well.
The story is both light and heavy at the same time. It’s the type of Murakami’s stories. In some parts we will be lead just to see the daily activities but on the other side there would be a big story that makes us shocked and confused. Once again, typical Murakami’s work. In my opinion, this book would be better to be read by the people who have reached 18 years old. This book would be perfect to be read on the free time between all the busy activities. Reminder, don’t be overthinking and just enjoy the story. Murakami does put in implied messages in his writings that some readers may found as just a simple sentence.