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.
I have recently been reading a kind of fiction which is new to me and seems to fall into a strange non-genre: they are stories set in our world and our time which often seem to draw from fantasy, history or science fiction without being defined by their presence, diving deep into the unsettling, twisted depths of the minds of seemingly banal people, stories which are mysterious, sometimes supernatural and somehow unknowable.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami is the epitome of this kind of story. I worry about saying too much and dulling the sense of curiousity and exploratory wonder that the book instills in you as it weaves between supernatural mystery, historical memoir and a very human tale of disintegrating relationships. It’s disorienting, perplexing and extremely difficult to put down.