Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Norwegian Wood Read-along: Introduction!

Norwegian Wood Read-along
The Introduction

I'm participating on Reading Rambo's Norwegian Wood Read-along.  If you're interested, go ahead and sign up!  We haven't started reading yet and the more the merrier!

I first discovered Murakami when I was given a copy of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle a few years ago.  The friend that gave it to me was often recommending or giving me books by foreign authors and there had been some successes and some failures.  I wasn't sure what to think about this Murakami character.  Japanese literature just didn't appeal to me at all, but I decided to go ahead and try it anyway and I'm so glad that I did because I loved it.

I immediately read Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World and loved that as well.  I started reading Murakami's short fiction that was featured in The New Yorker.  I read A Wild Sheep Chase and then got crazy and ordered the rare Hear the Wind Sing off of eBay.  Then I read Kafka on the Shore and despite everyone else loving it, I was disappointed.  Last year I read 1Q84 and again I was disappointed by a Murakami novel.  I'm hoping that reading Norwegian Wood will restore my faith.

My favorite thing about Murakami's writing is how it all feels like a dream world.  Anything can happen and often anything does happen!

I don't know much about the plot of Norwegian Wood, but I did some basic research on the book and found that the translation that we''ll be reading is by Jay Rubin.  It was originally translated into English by Alfred Birnbaum (who also translated much of Murakami's older work such as A Wild Sheep Chase and Hear the Wind Sing) in 1989 but re-translated by Rubin in 2000 for it's first publication in the UK and America.  Rubin also translated the first two books of 1Q84 and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

The other thing I learned about Norwegian Wood was that it was Murakami's big breakout success in Japan and the book that really put him on the map.  It was also a departure from the Murakami's usual weirdness in that for the most part, the novel stays pretty grounded.  So there's a good chance you won't see Colonel Sanders popping up as a character.

Anyway, here's the readalong schedule:

January 10th: Chapters 1 through 4
January 17th: Chapters 5 & 6
January 24th: Chapters 7 through 9
January 31st: Chapters 10 & 11

Here are the intro posts from other read-along participants:

FINALLY - if you're interested in more Murakami, I suggest joining the 2012 Murakami Challenge!

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