The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Essay - Critical Essays

Haruki Murakami

Critical Evaluation

Haruki Murakami’s fiction is best known for its cosmopolitan integration of both Japanese and American cultures into the narrative. In his short stories and novels, Murakami frequently alludes to rock and roll, jazz, and classic European literature and music. The son of teachers of Japanese literature, he also grew up with an extensive knowledge of traditional Japanese culture. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle shows how, for Murakami, both Japanese history and Western art, music, and commodities, inseparable from contemporary Japanese culture, are essential to a relevant representation of Japanese society.

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is regarded as Murakami’s most important novel. The ideas for the book originally came from Murakami’s short stories “The Wind-up Bird” and “Tuesday’s Women,” and the novel was first serialized in the Japanese magazine Shincho (1994-1995). Murakami says that he had developed his stoic, deadpan writing style by first writing in his limited English and then translating that writing into Japanese.

Although The Wind-up Bird Chronicle recounts Okada’s experiences in the first-person boku, the Japanese informal pronoun for boys and men (and rarely girls and women), Okada is largely reticent about his emotions, even when his wife disappears. Instead, the narrative reveals Okada’s thoughts and emotions through dreams and mystic events. Prominent in the novel are...

(The entire section is 572 words.)