Book Review: A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

I’m in the latter end of summer vacation and have had my time traveling to see friends and family. I didn’t get to read as much as I had liked to so far, but I’ve a long list set up. I did read some, I managed to read 1Q84 by the above author which was really enjoyable for how melancholy and confusing it comes off as. That will be another blog post.

But since I’ve just finished this one, here it goes. I’ll try my best to not spoil *too* much. I read this on my Kindle.

This was a sublime read. Not incredibly thrilling or anything, and being only the second book I’ve read by Murakami, I actually liked it a lot more than I expected. I had found out after I finished reading that it was book 3 of 3 (sort of). But that’s okay. According to Wikipedia, it is book 3 out of a trilogy, but also has a sequel relevant to just this book.

What caught me up in this one was Murakami’s writing style. The plot was definitely slow and simple, I don’t know if predictable explains it, but it is along the same lines. Not really gripping, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it. I myself prefer a melancholy overtone. I was discussing this with my guy, as he has read 1Q84, and we both agreed that Murakami’s style is pretty interesting. It’s incredibly Japanese, being a little weird but never in a bad way, and his style is the epitome of melancholy, but never in a negative way.

One of my favorite lines:

“An odd house the more I looked at it. It wasn’t particularly inhospitable or cold, nor built in any unusual way, nor even much in dispreair. It was just… odd. As if a great creature had grown old without being able to express its feelings. Not that it didn’t know how to express them, but rather that it didn’t know what to express.”

I enjoyed the way it was written quite a lot. Murakami’s best characteristic is to explain the character’s feelings in such a truthful way. Extremely detailed doesn’t explain it. He does write quite a bit about how characters are feeling, but the words he uses are so precise in describing emotions and states of being that you can really feel how the characters feel.

“I could not accept that fact of her disappearance. I was barely awake, but even if I were totally lucid, this–and everything that was happening to me–was far beyond my realm of comprehension. There was almost nothing one could do except let things take their course. Sitting on the sofa, I felt a sudden hunger. And not an ordinary hunger either.”

The novel isn’t that long, but because I could understand how somber the main character was (who remained unnamed throughout the story), it took me a little while longer to read. I quite liked that the main character was unnamed, it accentuated his personality. He was a middle-aged man with a somber and plain lifestyle and a melancholy mindset, who by luck or by chance got involved in a truly peculiar event.

From what I can tell, Murakami likes revolving his novel ideas around events surrounding a main, higher figure. He does this in A Wild Sheep Chase. The main character is involved in figuring out why this symbol, a sheep with a star on its back exists in a picture, when it is clearly known that every sheep in Japan is accounted for, and no other sheep looks like this. It may seem like a simple idea, but this is not that main point of Murakami’s storytelling. Murakami aims to describe states of beings that we may overlook in peculiar situations. When reading anything by him, it is a good idea to free yourself of any expectations and indulge yourself in learning about consciousness.

It is slightly difficult to categorize this novel, or any of Murakami’s work, into a single genre. So, I’ll just use keywords: surreal, post-modernism, World War II, melancholy, subtle crime and mystery. I really enjoyed the post-modernism of this novel.

I would recommend reading this, but probably with intention to read the trilogy. I didn’t find out about it being a trilogy until after, so I will go back and read the others that are associated with this and make a complete post.

If anything, please read 1Q84. Is/was on Amazon’s top 100, and is an incredible journey. That one is quite longer. It is not quite a “Japanese take” on 1984, but is inspired and has some correlation to it. I really enjoyed the mystery of that one.

Here is a link! Please enjoy.

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