Review of Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami #ReadingChallenge2019


I once read a review of Norwegian Wood where the reviewer wrote:

“It’s like travelling up a mountainside on a dark gray day. Yes, the beauty is still there, but you have to look for it. You don’t even notice the beauty before you because of the overcast skies. The higher up you go, the more drained you feel. At the very end, as you reach the top, you’re bone weary and exhausted, both mentally and physically, but suddenly you can see above the clouds and it’s so bright that your eyes hurt and the whole mountain suddenly looks different…you suddenly feel renewed…the world you thought was gloomy and gray is suddenly bright and new….and beautiful”—Connie, Goodreads reviewer.

I couldn’t agree more with the reviewer; this is exactly how one would feel while reading Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. This is a book that will evoke pain in you. It will make you think and at times it will churn your heart so much that you will have to put it down, only to feel compelled to start reading again after a while. It can be compared to a song that is melancholic yet melodious.

This is my third book in 2019. I finished the first two books Poonachi and Girl on the Train in three and four days respectively. However, it took me 16 days to finish Norwegian Wood. I agree that work, traveling and Netflix contributed to this delay, nevertheless, I read this book at a slower pace because I wanted to cherish this book exactly the way I cherish Darjeeling tea on a rain-soaked afternoon, sipping slowly to let the taste and warmth of tea linger in my mouth for long.

I loved this book also from a personal point of view as I could relate to it a lot. Firstly the song ‘Norwegian Wood‘ by the Beatles is my all time favorite and secondly the character of Midori reminded me of myself. Midori is a 20-year-old girl who tends to her dying father, she misses her lectures to go to the hospital, she is used to death and sickness, she doesn’t cry after her father dies, she is strong yet needs comfort, the student revolution appears hypocritical to her, she realises that those who talk about revolution do it as a status symbol and not because they mean it, she has a boyfriend who doesn’t really understand her and then she falls for another boy who has commitment issues. She almost eerily went through the same turmoil as me.

Death and unrequited love are almost two protagonists in this story. A major part of the book deals with death and how it affects the living. Most characters in this book kill themselves and that makes the book so gloomy. Kizuku, Naoko, Naoko’s sister, Hatsumi all kill themselves. Grief kills Midori’s father and lecherous lifestyle kill the soul of Nagasawa. I loved the portrayal of Nagasawa, he is the one who finds himself from the bed of one woman to the other yet he is the one who is the most emotionally volatile character. He almost appears emotionally sick. Everyone in this book is unable to find love, be it Toru, Naoko, Reiko, Hatsumi or Midori. Finally, Toru, the protagonist survives all the ordeals to tell the story after 20 years. The narrative style of this novel is lucid and seamlessly goes from one to the other. This book is often referred to as autobiographical and it certainly has that biographical element and style.

The prompts this book adheres to from #WriteTribeReadingChallenge2019 are

  1. A book that is a Translation
  2. A book written by someone of a different nationality/color/ethnic group than you
  3. A book set in a country that you visited
  4. A book written by an author who is new to you
  5. A book made into a movie

The prompts this book adheres to from #PopsugarReadingChallenge are

  1. A book that makes you nostalgic
  2. A book set on a college or University campus
  3. A book written by an author from Asia
  4. A book with a two-word title

The book that I am reading now is Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal.




21 thoughts on “Review of Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami #ReadingChallenge2019

  1. Moon says:

    What an absolutely brilliant review, Balaka. Your review shows great perceptiveness. Thanks for inspiring me to finish the book. I hope, I will. I really liked Murakami’s ‘south of the border, west of the sun’ and ‘Men without women’. His writing style has a lyrical and dream- like quality but the stories are so real. also intend to read his ‘Sputnik Sweetheart’. Bought it last month.sending you lots of love and hugs…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Balaka says:

      You won’t believe this is my first Murakami book and an in love with his writing. You are absolutely right that his writing is lyrical and dream like and yet the stories are realistic. I am dying to read his next. Thanks for mentioning those books will look then up. Love and hugs ♥️ dear

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Shilpa Garg says:

    Though I have 2-3 books from H Murakami on my Kindle, I havent read any of this books as yet. Your detailed review is inspiring me to read this book and that it is going address so many prompts is awesome too. Will pick it up soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. the bespectacled mother says:

    The review is too good. It reminds me of what I liked in the book. If you felt close to Midori, I felt close to Reiko. Reiko’s troubles and struggle with mental health almost coincided with what I was growing through. Of course minus the onslaught of a 13 year old. I couldn’t bear going through those pages. They made me sick. Everyone was broken in the story. Not one character was stable.
    However, special mention for the ending when Reiko asks Toru out when she visits his house. It made me so sick I wanted to puke on the book and then good sense prevailed because it was a library copy. Kya tha Toru? Sabko paar lagane wala? Sabko taarne wala? The ending spoiled the book for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Balaka says:

      Norwegian woods is an amazing book, each and every character is broken and you feel both sympathy and angst for them at the same time. I wanted to go back to the book again. I felt a tightness in my chest all through the book. I sincerely wanted to discuss this book in a book club.


  4. Shalzmojo says:

    Wow that review makes me wanna pick this book up today – your review is so lucid and well explained. You have really savoured the book – that feeling is very evident in this review!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ramya Abhinand says:

    What a brilliant review of a brilliant book Balaka. And you took 16 days.. ah well i took way longer. But the point is this book needs the time. There are so many things in the book that I loved. SO many quotable quotes.. I can just go on and on. …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Balaka says:

      Yes, the quotes were remarkable and I deliberately lingered my reading time so that I can have more time. Thank you so much for reading, It felt really good.


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