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Friday, March 10, 2006

A penny for your thoughts

I just finished reading Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood for the second time - and I can not seem to get it out of my mind. In some ways, I would like to call this book my favorite - Murakami constructs such a compelling aura around the characters that I am inevitably drawn into the story each time I pick up the book. As the protagonist, Toru, struggles through the aftermath of the suicide of his best friend, he tries to make the best of his lonely little world - and I can't help but hope everything will turn out OK for him and the other important people in his life, even though I know it won't.

So why don't I just call this my favorite book? I guess that's where my naive, conservative side takes over. The characters in this book are just plain weird, doing stuff and talking about random things that would have never crossed my mind. This disconnect makes it really hard at times to understand where they are coming from - even though fundamentally maybe we are all searching for the same thing in life, to be accepted and to know where we fit in.

And maybe that's why I can't stop thinking about this book - Norwegian Wood really gets to the heart of what we all go through in trying to make the best of every day.

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  • Yeah, this book is really addictive. I have read it five times – the original Japanese text four times and an English translation once. Like Nagasawa and Toru read The Great Gatsby again and again, I read Norwegian Wood again and again. hahaha

    By Blogger hiro, at 7:51 AM  

  • Which version do you like more - the Japanese or English? My goal is to someday be able to read this book in Japanese. I have a lot to learn before I can do that!

    By Blogger v_horizon, at 6:11 PM  

  • I like both the Japanese and English version. It took me very long time to finish reading the English version. But reading very carefully every single word in the English version, I found details I had not noticed when reading the Japanese version very quickly. But there are limitations of translation, too. Midori's sister looks like an idiot in the English version. How come she bought cucumbers when Midori had asked her to buy kiwis!? hahaha

    By Blogger hiro, at 6:12 PM  

  • That's interesting! Sometimes I wonder if different translators would interpret parts of the story in different ways...

    I actually just finished reading "South of the Border, West of the Sun" and I didn't like it as much as "Norwegian Wood." But maybe if a different translator had written the English version, I wonder if I would have liked it a little more??

    By Blogger v_horizon, at 12:23 AM  

  • Yeah, that's possible. Reading translations is like playing what is called "message game" in Japan. People form groups and in each group the same message is passed from a person to another. All groups begin with the same message, but every group ends up with quite different message from the original message as well as the other groups' messages. The game teaches kids that they can trust only original sources. You can't trust translators. hahaha

    By Blogger hiro, at 2:06 AM  

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