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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Cover of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
A Novel
Borrow Borrow Borrow
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a tour de force—and one of Haruki Murakami's most acclaimed and beloved novels.
In a Tokyo suburb, a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's missing cat—and then for his wife as well—in a netherworld beneath the city's placid surface. As these searches intersect, he encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists. Gripping, prophetic, and suffused with comedy and menace, this is an astonishingly imaginative detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets from Japan's forgotten campaign in Manchuria during World War II.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a tour de force—and one of Haruki Murakami's most acclaimed and beloved novels.
In a Tokyo suburb, a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's missing cat—and then for his wife as well—in a netherworld beneath the city's placid surface. As these searches intersect, he encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists. Gripping, prophetic, and suffused with comedy and menace, this is an astonishingly imaginative detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets from Japan's forgotten campaign in Manchuria during World War II.
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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One Book One: The Thieving Magpie
    June and July 1984

    1

    Tuesday's Wind-Up Bird

    Six Fingers and Four Breasts

    When the phone rang I was in the kitchen, boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along with an FM broadcast of the overture to Rossini's The Thieving Magpie, which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta.

    I wanted to ignore the phone, not only because the spaghetti was nearly done, but because Claudio Abbado was bringing the London Symphony to its musical climax. Finally, though, I had to give in. It could have been somebody with news of a job opening. I lowered the flame, went to the living room, and picked up the receiver.

    "Ten minutes, please," said a woman on the other end.

    I'm good at recognizing people's voices, but this was not one I knew.

    "Excuse me? To whom did you wish to speak?"

    "To you, of course. Ten minutes, please. That's all we need to understand each other." Her voice was low and soft but otherwise nondescript.

    "Understand each other?"

    "Each other's feelings."

    I leaned over and peeked through the kitchen door. The spaghetti pot was steaming nicely, and Claudio Abbado was still conducting The Thieving Magpie.

    "Sorry, but you caught me in the middle of making spaghetti. Can I ask you to call back later?"

    "Spaghetti? What are you doing cooking spaghetti at ten-thirty in the morning?"

    "That's none of your business," I said. "I decide what I eat and when I eat it."

    "True enough. I'll call back," she said, her voice now flat and expressionless. A little change in mood can do amazing things to the tone of a person's voice.

    "Hold on a minute," I said before she could hang up. "If this is some new sales gimmick, you can forget it. I'm out of work. I'm not in the market for anything."

    "Don't worry. I know."

    "You know? You know what?"

    "That you're out of work. I know about that. So go cook your precious spaghetti."

    "Who the hell—"

    She cut the connection.

    With no outlet for my feelings, I stared at the phone in my hand until I remembered the spaghetti. Back in the kitchen, I turned off the gas and poured the contents of the pot into a colander. Thanks to the phone call, the spaghetti was a little softer than al dente, but it had not been dealt a mortal blow. I started eating—and thinking.

    Understand each other? Understand each other's feelings in ten minutes? What was she talking about? Maybe it was just a prank call. Or some new sales pitch. In any case, it had nothing to do with me.

    After lunch, I went back to my library novel on the living room sofa, glancing every now and then at the telephone.
    What were we supposed to understand about each other in ten minutes? What can two people understand about each other in ten minutes? Come to think of it, she seemed awfully sure about those ten minutes: it was the first thing out of her mouth. As if nine minutes would be too short or eleven minutes too long. Like cooking spaghetti al dente.

    I couldn't read anymore. I decided to iron shirts instead. Which is what I always do when I'm upset. It's an old habit. I divide the job into twelve precise stages, beginning with the collar (outer surface) and ending with the left-hand cuff. The order is always the same, and I count off each stage to myself. Otherwise, it won't come out right.

    I ironed...
About the Author-
  • Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. The most recent of his many honors is the Yomiuri Literary Prize, whose previous recipients include Yukio Mishima, Kenzaburo Oe, and Kobo Abe. He is the author of the novels Dance, Dance, Dance, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and A Wild Sheep Chase, and of The Elephant Vanishes, a collection of stories. His latest novel, South of the Border, West of the Sun, will be published by Knopf in 1999. His work has been translated into fourteen languages.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 29, 2007
    Amazingly long, incredibly pricey, wildly experimental, often confusing but never boring, Murakami's most famous novel has been brought to audio life with extreme dedication: by Naxos, a company that regularly wins prizes, and by a reader with an uncommon combination of skills. Degas is already a Murakami veteran, having read the audio version of A Wild Sheep Chase
    (Naxos), and has worked on radio, stage and even cartoon voice (including Mr. Bean
    ). He catches the constantly changing mental landscape of Murakami's fertile imagination—which moves from detective story to explicit sexual fantasy, heartbreaking Japanese WWII historical flashback, everyday details of married life (cooking, shopping and pet care) and even the occasional burst of satiric humor. Degas treats it all with the clarity and calmness of a very deep, very still pool. Certainly not for everyone's taste or budget, but anyone interested in this important author will find something to enlighten them. Available as a Vintage paperback (Reviews, Aug. 18. 1997).

  • Chicago Tribune

    "Dreamlike and compelling. . . . Murakami is a genius."

  • The Washington Post Book World "Mesmerizing. . . . Murakami's most ambitious attempt yet to stuff all of modern Japan into a single fictional edifice."
  • The New York Times Book Review "A significant advance in Murakami's art . . . a bold and generous book."
  • New York Observer "A stunning work of art . . .that bears no comparisons."
  • Philadelphia Inquirer "With The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Murakami spreads his brilliant, fantastical wings and soars."
  • San Francisco Chronicle "Seductive. . . . A labyrinth designed by a master, at once familiar and irresistibly strange."
  • New York Magazine "An epic . . . as sculpted and implacable as a bird by Brancusi."
  • Baltimore Sun "Mesmerizing, original . . . fascinating, daring, mysterious and profoundly rewarding."
  • Los Angeles Times Book Review "A beguiling sense of mystery suffuses The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and draws us irresistibly and ever deeper into the phantasmagoria of pain and memory. . . . Compelling [and] convincing."
  • Pico Iyer, Time "Digs relentlessly into the buried secrets of Japan's past . . . brilliantly translated into the latest vernacular."
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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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Haruki Murakami
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