Now Reading: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami


An isolated alley. A strange, teenaged neighbor girl who fakes a limp. A mysterious bird that (though never seen), rooster-like, heralds each new day. A mysterious woman with a red-vinyl hat. A despicable brother-in-law. A missing cat named after a despicable brother in law. I can almost imagine author Haruki Murakami having a hat full of little strips of paper on which things like this are written, and pulling a dozen or so from them when it’s time to write a new story or novel. Well, maybe two hats. Since it’s Murakami, one would have only strips of paper that somehow relate to a cat or cats. The items above are some of those he drew from the hat in order to write the novel The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

I’m about two-hundred pages into this novel so far. It hasn’t been my favorite Murakami by any stretch, but as usual it has just the right mixture of hints of the supernatural and prosaic daily activity (I’m sure I’ve read about his characters preparing more meals than any other writer’s) . The main character, Toru Okada, is low-key and relatively unambitious personally, but since he’s “the same character” I’ve found in all of the Murakami novels I’ve read thus far (well, at least he has the same “voice” anyway), I’m finding the fictional landscape comfortable and the reading easy. I should wrap this up by the end of the month and will report back on my thoughts.

Have you read this one? It will be my fourth Murakami, after 1Q84, Norwegian Wood, and Sputnik Sweetheart. Which Murakami work should I tackle next after this one?


  1. July 15, 2013 at 10:32 am

    I would recommend reading Kafka on the Shore next – it is probably my favourite Murakami novel.


    • Jay said,

      July 21, 2013 at 11:13 am

      Thanks for the recommendation! Sorry your comment didn’t get posted earlier. For some reason WordPress decided to put it with the spam comments(!)


  2. Kelly said,

    July 15, 2013 at 11:33 am

    I love your idea that Murakami pulls random strips of paper out of a hat when he writes his novels…I definitely got that impression from 1Q84! I have to admit, that’s the only Murakami I tried so far, and I DNF’d it…but I’ve been thinking about trying another one. Perhaps this one might be a good choice?


    • Jay said,

      July 16, 2013 at 8:14 am

      Hi Kelly,
      1Q84 was really “out there” and clearly not for everyone. I’d recommend you read his collection of short stories, “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman” first. There are several wonderful stories in it (Chance Traveller, New York Mining Disaster, Ice Man, and the title story are a few of my favorites), but there are a few weird ones too. That’s what you get with Murakami, I guess.


  3. Ti said,

    July 15, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    I loved this one! I hosted a read along for it over April and May. When you are done with it, I can send you the link to the discussion posts if you want to take a peek at them. We also talked it up on Twitter using the hashtag #Winditup2013

    Murakami did say with this one that he didn’t know how it would end until he got to the end. Interesting! You’d think a book like this one would be planned out.


    • Jay said,

      July 16, 2013 at 8:17 am

      Hi Ti,

      Thanks for the info. I’m sorry I just missed the read-along. I would be interested to read what everyone had to say and will check out the Winditup2013 hashtag.

      Sputnik Sweetheart may be my favorite Murakami read thus far – if you don’t count his short story collection, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.



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