Guest review: Norwegian Woods by Haruki Murakami | Japanese Fiction Week

This post is part of the Japanese Fiction Week hosted on this blog.
For more information about the week, head over here.


Please welcome Laura from SisterSpooky for a review of Norwegian Woods and some of her thoughts on Japanese fiction.

I am by no means an expert on Japanese culture but it just fascinates me so.  I think I really just became drawn to the weird and wonderful beauty that was all around it. From the anime world of Pokemon (which was the first big thing to do with Japan that I remembered being obsessed with) to Manga and Cosplay that began to become more and more popular over the years as I attended comic cons around London and as I got older I began to explore more of the culture. I think the clash of the old and the new worlds made me fall in love with Japan.  I've never visited it but it's the one place in the world I want to see before I kick the bucket.  So when I started to find my love for books again during my university years I was given a book by a Japanese author that I want to shout about. I'd call this a review of sorts.
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami was a game charger book for me. I had been going along quite happily reading the same sort of books over and over again by American or sometimes English authors and then a friend gave me her copy to read and I think it quite possibly blew my mind. I'd say it's a book for an older YA audience only because of the issues of suicide and depression and references to sex but it was simply a wonderful book. It opened my eyes to books that were written by authors that don't come from a Western society and how their view on the world can be so different but the emotions behind the story are the same and raw like in any other culture.
It's a story of a young man who is in love or thinks he is and trying to find himself in the world at a time when politics and society are shifting and he's struggling to understand where he fits in the world and how his life and the life of the girl he idolises changes. It strikes so many chords and I just loved how it related to the power of music in their lives; namely The Beatles and the power their music holds for them. I think that if you've read The Perks of Being A Wallflower and want something else with that kind of power in a book I'd suggest you get a hold of Norwegian Wood as soon as you can.
It's made me want to try more Japanese authors and wondering what YA is like for Japanese readers and if it translates the same way the Western YA novels do. We all share the same feelings and have the same struggles so seeing it first hand in a book like Norwegian Wood made me want to try more. Thanks to the last Japanese YA week hosted by Portrait of a Woman I found so many more books to try and have Real World by Natsuo Kirino and Battle Royale by Koushun Takami on the TBR pile!
If Japanese Fiction Week gives you anything then let it give you that brave push to try something new. You may find your new favourite book!
Thanks for your review and thoughts on YA, Laura! I have yet to read Norwegian Woods (though I did see the film) and I find it interesting that you compare it to The Perks Of Being A Wallflower!


  1. Great post. I've seen lots of people saying wonderful things about Haruki Murakami's books but for some reason instead of finding this encouraging I've found it intimidating. I think you may have persuaded me to think again, particularly with the mention of music ;)

  2. Oh Norwegian Wood! This is the first book I read by Haruki Murakami and I absolutely fell in love with the story and with the author! He's definitely one of my favourites :)