56 Days – Revisiting the Classics

A good book is like an old friend. Rereading one is like seeing a friend you haven’t seen in a long time. I remember finding out about Haruki Murakami in college and reading everything he wrote. It has been a while since college, and revisiting Murakami before traveling to Japan has been a treat.

Haruki Murakami is a Japanese novelist, short-story writer, and translator. He was born in Kyoto, Japan in 1949 and is known for his unique style that combines elements of Western and Eastern culture, often blending elements of magical realism and surrealism with traditional narrative. He is considered one of the most popular and successful contemporary Japanese writers, and his books have been translated into over 50 languages. Some of his most famous works include Norwegian Wood, Kafka on the Shore, and 1Q84. He has won several awards for his work, including the Franz Kafka Prize and the Jerusalem Prize, and is considered one of the most influential and popular authors of his generation.

Right now I am re-reading one of his most famous works, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is a novel that centers around a man named Toru Okada who is searching for his missing wife, Kumiko. The story takes place in Tokyo and incorporates elements of surrealism and magical realism, as well as themes of war, memory, and self-discovery. The novel also features a number of other characters, including a psychic and a mysterious man known as the “Wind-up Bird.”

It is interesting to come across old passages I had read, but forgotten. Others I had totally forgotten. The ones I find that I remember the best are the stories about Manchuria and the Japanese Imperial Army, which must have been quite controversial when it came out in Japan in the 1990s. The scenes set in Manchuria in The Wind-up Bird Chronicle deal with the main character Toru Okada’s exploration of his family’s past and their connections to Japan’s colonization of Manchuria in the 1930s. These scenes have been noted for their historical accuracy and the way they depict the complex and often brutal realities of the period. The novel’s exploration of the ethical implications of Japan’s actions in Manchuria, and the way it portrays the human cost of war, have been widely praised by critics. Many readers found the scenes in Manchuria to be thought-provoking and powerful, as it offers a nuanced view of a part of Japan’s history that is often overlooked in literature. Some critics have also commended the way the scenes in Manchuria complement the novel’s broader themes of memory, guilt, and the effects of the past on the present. However, some readers have criticized the novel for its handling of the historical context, particularly the way it portrays the colonized people, and argued that the novel could have been more sensitive in addressing the issue.

Phrase of the Day: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (ねじまき鳥クロニクル) Nejimakidori Kuronikuru

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