Book Review : Norwegian Wood


Norwegian wood” is a 1987 novel by “The Franz Kafka Prize winner”, Haruki Murakami and translated from Japanese to English by Jay Rubin in 2000. Murakami is considered as an important figure in postmodern literature.

The story’s protagonist and narrator is Toru, who looks back when he hears his first love Naoko’s favorite Beatle song “Norwegian Wood”. The novel is nostalgic story of his student days in Tokyo, adrift in a word of uneasy friendship, casual sex, passion, loss and desire – to a time when an young woman, Midori, enters into his life and he has to choose between the future and past.

As per translator note, Norwegian wood is still one Murakami book that everyone in Japan has read but Murakami’s young audience has grown up with him as he begun wrestling Japan’s dark past.

When you read the book, you feel like you are reading Murakami’s autobiography but truth is, It’s not his biography as per Murakami.

Norwegian wood, title of the book is song of The Beatles and also favorite of Naoko, Toru’s girlfriend. I feel depth of novel as I felt when I read “Saraswatichandra” written by Govardhanram Tripathi. I feel same depth as I felt when I was reading literature written by Kakasaheb Kalelkar, Paulo Coelho, Father Walesh and Sir Arthur  Conan Doyle. Story in the book is descriptive but clear. You can enjoy each line of novel. You can feel each and every character.

Some characters of book are as below:

Toru Watanabe – Protagonist and narrator is Tokyo college student and different from most students. He falls in love with Naoko and Later with Midori.

Kizuki – Toru’s best high-school friend and committed suicide when he was 17.

Naoko – A beautiful fragile woman and Kizuki’s girlfriend. After Kizuki’s death, she involved with Toru. Death of Kizuki and her sister, who also committed suicide when she was 17, effects on her emotional stability.

Midori – She is a vivacious classmate of Toru. She has boyfriend but later falls in love with Toru.

There are other some interesting characters like Reiko, Nagasawa, Hatsumi, Itoh, Mr. Kobayashi, Sir Nakano and Strom Trooper.

I have note down some good points from the book, it shows author’s capability.

–          The national flag did not fly at night. I didn’t know why the flag had to be taken down at night. The nation continued to exist while it was dark and plenty of people worked all night. It seemed unfair to me that such people were denied the protection of flag.

–          Society needed a few people –just a few – who were interested in and even passionate about Map making.

–          When you’ve surrounded by endless possibilities, one of the hardest things you can do is pass them up  – Dostoevsky

–          When people tell a lie about something, they have to make bunch of lies to go with the first one.

–          You shouldn’t trust anybody who calls himself an ordinary man.– F. Scott Fitzgerald

–          Death exist not as the opposite but as a part of life

There are lots of books’ name, author and songs mentioned in story as a part of story which shows author’s interest too (as I believe).


–          Balzac

–          Joseph Conard

–          Dickens

–          Dostoevsky

–          Truman Capote

–          John Updike

–          F. Scott Fitzgerald

–          Raymond Chandler

–          Kazumi Takahashi

–          Kenzaburo Oe

–          Osamu Dazai

–          Yukio Mishima

–          Thomas Mann

–          Faulkner

–          Hermann Hesse

Books mentioned in the novel:

–          The Centaur, written by John Updike – Toru’s favorite book

–          The Great Gatsby, Written by F. Scott Fitzgerald – Toru’s most favorite book

–          Lord Jim, written by Josheph Conard

–          The Magic Mountain, written by Thomas Mann

–          Light in August, written by Faulkner

–          Beneath the Wheel, written by Hermann Hesse

Songs/albums mentioned in the novel:

–          “Norwegian Wood” – The Beatles

–          “Lonely heart club Band” – Sgt. Pepper

–          “Waltz for Debbie” – Bill Evan

–          “Michelle” – The Beatles

–          “Nowhere Man” – The Beatles

–          “Julia” – The Beatles

–          “Seven Daffodils”

–          “Lemon Tree”

–          “Puff (The Magic dragon)”

–          “Five hundred Mile”

–          “Where have all the flowers gone?”

–          “Michael, Row the Boat Ashara”

–          “Dear Heart” – Kenny Mancini

–          “Yesterday” – The Beatles

–          “Something” – The Beatles

–          “Here comes the sun” – The Beatles

–          “The fool on the hill” – The Beatles

–          “Penny Lane” – The Beatles

–          “Black bird” – The Beatles

–          “When I’m 64” – The Beatles

–          “And I love her” – The Beatles

–          “Hey dude” – The Beatles

–          “Up on the roof” – The Beatles

–          “Pavanne for  a dying Queen” – Ravel

–          “Claive de Lune” – Debussy

–          “Close to you” – Bacharch

–          “Raindrops keep falling on my head” – Bacharch

–          “Walk on By” – Bacharch.

At last, Norwegian wood is not only a love story but undeniably hip, full of student uprising free love, booze and 1960’pop too. Murakami leaves books end open but still I like the story and execution of story.

I enjoyed this story so much. I am giving 4/5 rating to this book.

Book Details

Norwegian Wood - Uk Cover Page

Norwegian Wood - Uk Cover Page

Name: Norwegian Wood

Author: Haruki Murakami ( official website )

Country: Japan

Language: English (Original in Japanese)

Genre: Novel

Publisher: Vintage International

Buy: Amazon

!!! Enjoy Reading !!!

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6 Responses to Book Review : Norwegian Wood

  1. Leah says:

    Nice review! ‘Nostalgic’ is a perfect word to describe this book, and I love the quotes you chose. The language in this book is so beautiful 🙂

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  4. Shreya Singh says:

    Hello Ujval,

    It seems like you are very passionate person. Its seems like you are ardeous the way it comes and approaches that make a man passionate. But I would suggest read the book called “A feather in the camp” by Sir richard Gettment who is an proclaimed visionary and faithful husband. I think you will get the feeling of a true statementship in it,

    Please let me know your thoughts on this.


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