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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

A Novel

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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.

Publishers Weekly Review

Sep 29, 1997 – After his wife disappears, unemployed 30-year-old paralegal Toru Okada gets embroiled in a surreal, sprawling drama--part detective story, part history lesson, part metaphysical speculation, part satire--that marks Japanese novelist Murakami's (Dance Dance Dance) most ambitious work to date. As Okada searches for his wife (in an abandoned lot near his home, and in a city park), he encounters characters who are dream-like projections of his own muted fears and desires--among them, a precocious, death-obsessed, 16-year-old neighbor and Okada's brother-in-law, a sinister politician. Peculiar events and strange coincidences abound. A mysterious woman calls Okada regularly, insisting on phone sex. A mystical experience at the bottom of a dry well leaves him with a blue stain on his cheek. Although Okada seems to be sleepwalking through his adventures, new acquaintances feel compelled to share their life stories with him and offer wild tales of violence and passion, tales that contrast strongly with the numbness that settles like a DeLillo-esque cloud over the novel's events (one character, witness to gruesome wartime torture, speaks of having "burned up the very core of my life"). As Okada discovers, these disparate characters are linked by the memory of the 1939 massacre of Japanese troops by Soviet tanks at Nomonhan on the Manchurian border, and this massacre comes to symbolize the senseless violence and political evils, past and present, that haunt Japan in the second half of the 20th century. 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.

Customer Reviews


Dreamlike, elegant and brutal, this is by far Murakami at his best! Both easy to follow and enjoy, while at the same time deeply spiritual and intellectually satisfying. At first glance, a hard-boiled mystery, later revealed as interwoven ghost story, tale of betrayal, history of Japan's campaign in Manchuria, evil political ideals and the search for a lost cat. Easily one of the best novels I have ever read. Highly recommended!


Mind altering, an experience that's worth the time it takes to actually understand this book.

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I cannot quite articulate how.....but this book was life changing. Murakami manages to take the most mundane event (a man eating spaghetti and looking for his lost cat) into something so unbelievable and compelling. This book made laugh, cry and think. Highly recommended. Please read this book.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Oct 21, 1997
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 624 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings