The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami is one of my favorite authors. A friend of mine (Nehemiah Blake) sent me this interview the other day and I thought I would mention it here. My favorite book of his is without doubt The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I love the tapestry and feeling of disconnection between the protagonist and the world. I love the isolation in the well and the interesting and curious characters with strange hats and the names of Greek Islands. I love the way the story is not a one dimension, linear tale but rather an intricate tapestry of different lives and personalities that have as a foundation the quest and love a man has for his lost wife. I love the simplicity with which Murkami writes and the complexity of the tale he weaves. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is without doubt my favorite Murakami. My second favorite is Norwegian Wood. The interview was done shortly before the release of Kafka on the Shore. I am linking to The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle above to keep the posts consistent, but the interview is about Murakami's writing in general and is long. I am looking forward to the English translation of 1Q84, his latest novel [review here].
As per the interview (see interview here) Murakami gives some interesting insights on The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.
You’ve said elsewhere, referring to The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, that you were interested in your father, in what happened to him, and to his entire generation; but there are no father figures in the novel, or indeed almost anywhere in your fiction. Where in the book itself is this interest apparent?
Almost all my novels have been written in the first person. The main task of my protagonist is to observe the things happening around him. He sees what he must see, or he is supposed to see, in actual time. If I may say so, he resembles Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby. He is neutral, and in order to maintain his neutrality, he must be free from any kinship, any connection to a vertical family system.
This might be considered my reply to the fact that “family” has played an overly significant role in traditional Japanese literature. I wanted to depict my main character as an independent, absolute individual. His status as an urban dweller has something to do with it too. He is a type of man who chooses freedom and solitude over intimacy and personal bonds.
Few novelists have written and rewritten their obsessions so compulsively, I think, as you have. Hard-Boiled Wonderland, Dance Dance Dance, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and Sputnik Sweetheart almost demand to be read as variations on a theme: a man has been abandoned by, or has otherwise lost, the object of his desire, and is drawn by his inability to forget her into a parallel world that seems to offer the possibility of regaining what he has lost, a possibility that life as he (and the reader) knows it can never offer. Would you agree with this characterization?
How central is this obsession to your fiction?
I don’t know why I keep writing those things. I find that in John Irving’s work, every book of his, there’s some person with a body part that’s missing. I don’t know why he keeps writing about those missing parts; probably he doesn’t know himself. For me it’s the same thing. My protagonist is always missing something, and he’s searching for that missing thing. It’s like the Holy Grail, or Philip Marlowe.
Read the full interview at the Paris Review Haruki Murakami, The Art of Fiction No. 182.