An insomniac whirlwind of a novel: ‘A Wild Sheep Chase’, by Haruki Murakami (1982)


I’m starting to see how people get hooked on Murakami.  I picked ‘After Dark‘ for my first foray into his oeuvre because it was the shortest book in the library.  This being Murakami, after finishing I immediately had to run back and get the second shortest off the shelf!

If ‘After Dark’ was like a beautifully focussed black and white photograph, ‘Wild Sheep Chase’ is a psychedelic print.  The images are surreal and the scope utterly baffling.  I’d decided to give myself time to reflect before writing about it, but it’s becoming apparent that time isn’t going to help; it’s just not that kind of a book.

All of the above is, of course, high praise.  An advantage of the surreal psychedelic palate is that it doesn’t seem to matter that I can’t say I ‘got’ this book, instead I was able to luxuriate in its oddness.  As the title suggests, this is an insomniac whirlwind of a book, full of coincidences, clues and a reality which is either too true to be believed, or too vague to be discerned.

The novel ostensibly follows the search for a unique sheep that appears in a photograph depicting  a peaceful mountain view.  On the one hand therefore, this is a detective story, on the other, it’s a descent (or ascent) into a strange wonderland of larger-than-life characters.  The narrator notes that ‘There are symbolic dreams – dreams that symbolise some reality.  Then there are symbolic realities – realities that symbolise a dream‘.  This novel is both and, while I’m pretty sure I didn’t understand it, I’m confident in saying that I enjoyed it, and I look forward to seeing where my Murakami journey of discovery will take me next.

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12 Responses to An insomniac whirlwind of a novel: ‘A Wild Sheep Chase’, by Haruki Murakami (1982)

  1. Hi, have you read the 1Q84 books?

  2. Nish says:

    Luxuriate in the oddness…you describe the experience of reading a Murakami novel very aptly 🙂

  3. Sarah says:

    I can completely relate to your experience of reading Murakami and waiting for some clarity to emerge! I’m intrigued and bewildered by his writing, yet love the surreal world that he conjures. I think my favourite so far is ‘The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle’, but I’ve still got IQ84 to look forward to – yippee!

    • ‘The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle’ is on the to-be-read list!
      I’m really looking forward to getting to know more of Murakami’s work in the new year. Also, though the title of TWUBC has always confused me, now I know that I shouldn’t worry but just settle in and enjoy the ride!

  4. I haven’t read 1Q84 yet, but this is making me really want to read it with you! I am so glad you’re liking Murakami – I would recommend Sputnik Sweetheart next, if you’re still too intimidated by the longer ones!

  5. I’m fairly new to Murakami too, and this is on my TBR pile. You’ve really intrigued me – I’ll dig it out to read soon 🙂

  6. Aquileana says:

    I haven´t read it but Murakami is actually one of my favorite writers… In fact, I mentioned `Kafka on the shore´as a book I ´d recommend in a question that came along a blogger award…
    Thanks so much for sharing… best wishes. Aquileana 🙂

    • Well, now I’m officially a Murakami fan (and I’ve been a Kafka fan for ages) this is clearly a book that I’ve got to read! It is on the, already alarmingly large, to-be-read pile for 2016.

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