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haruki murakami - kafka on the shore

A Wind Up Bird Chronicle


Nejimaki-dori Kuronikuru

First published in Japan by Shinchosha
(1994-95 in three volumes)

English translater: by Jay Rubin

US Edition published in 1998 by Vintage:
Paperback: 624 pages
ISBN-10: 0679775439

UK Edition published in 1999 by Vintage:
Paperback: 624 pages


But even so, every now and then I would feel a violent stab of loneliness. The very water I drink, the very air I breathed, would feel like long, sharp needles. The pages of a book in my hands would take on the threatening metallic gleam of razor blades. I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at 4 o'clock in the morning

Bad things come in threes for Toru Okada. He loses his job, his cat disappears, and then his wife fails to return from work. His search for his wife (and his cat) introduces him to a bizarre collection of characters, including two psychic sisters, a possibly unbalanced teenager, an old soldier who witnessed the massacres on the Chinese mainland at the beginning of the Second World War, and a very shady politician.

Haruki Murakami is a master of subtly disturbing prose. Mundane events throb with menace, while the bizarre is accepted without comment. Meaning always seems to be just out of reach, for the reader as well as for the characters, yet one is drawn inexorably into a mystery that may have no solution. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is an extended meditation on themes that appear throughout Murakami's earlier work. The tropes of popular culture, movies, music, detective stories, combine to create a work that explores both the surface and the hidden depths of Japanese society at the end of the 20th century.

If it were possible to isolate one theme in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, that theme would be responsibility. The atrocities committed by the Japanese army in China keep rising to the surface like a repressed memory, and Toru Okada himself is compelled by events to take responsibility for his actions and struggle with his essentially passive nature. If Toru is supposed to be a Japanese Everyman, steeped as he is in Western popular culture and ignorant of the secret history of his own nation, this novel paints a bleak picture. Like the winding up of the titular bird, Murakami slowly twists the gossamer threads of his story into something of considerable weight. (from

excerpt available on the Random House site



1997 Knopf cover design details from designer Chip Kidd

Murakami Haruki: The Simulacrum in Contemporary Japanese Culture by Michael Seats - chapter on HTWS - except available from Google Book Search

The first chapter of the novel is available on the New York Times web site

Brilliant page with reviews and links from The Complete Review

Salon Review by Laura Miller 

Barcelona review

21st Century Lit review by Francisca Hu

The mystery in Room 208 by Julian Ferraro from The Times (UK)

Notes on Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Thomas Acton Bishop

On a Nightmarish Trek Through History's Web - New York Times review by MICHIKO KAKUTANI

East meets West - another New York Times review by JAMIE JAMES

On The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle - fiction from a rising son a feature by David Mathew

Broken Mainspring - Like a stopped timepiece, Haruki Murakami's clockwork fiction tells the right time twice a day. By Lakshmi Gopalkrishnan - The Slate review

MetroActive Books review by Jim Rendon

Blogcritics magazine review by Daryl Sng

Review by Holger Nauheimer for the Change Management Blog

Interesting review by Jason Kottke

Critique magazine review by Maya Mirsky

Interesting note from the AIGA wwhich nominated the US Cover for a design award

Very Detailed Wikipedia page

Danny Reviews - review by Danny Yee

Blogging Bookworms review

From here to obscurity - review by Hayden Childs

Literary Encyclopedia - review by Matthew Chozick, Harvard University

Interesting points raised in a short review by Thomas Acton Bishop

Helium - review by Stephen Fife-Adams

The Book Page - review by Charles Wyrick

Fantastic Planet Books - review by Matthew Payne

The Trans-Siberian Handbook - review by Kate Stage

The Peoples Media Company - review by By Gregory Schneider

Ready Whne You Are CB - review by CB James

Crown Dozen - review by Benjamin

A book review by Steven Wu

The wikipedia page on the novel

A Wild Up Bird Chronicle's page on

The Literary Addict review by Lorette C. Luzajic

Colin Marshall's review

Corey Vilhauer review

The mystery in Room 208 - The Times review by Julian Ferraro

The review

Riding the wind review by Mike Adams

Sinking Deep Into A Murakami World - new review by Mary W. Walters

SaruDara review by Scott Foutz

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: The Motif of Agency - review by Ivana Simić

Powells Books review