I’d read Kafka on The Shore, and I think that’s it? I had never gone back to this one – the one that broke it wide open on the pop cultural scale. Fifteen years between the two. Yet there’s a highly recognizable feel about this writing. One gets the sense that Murakami himself is a truly decent guy. He has characters that inspire that in you. Searchers, seekers. People notout to hurt anyone. People just looking for ways to make it through life and enjoy in all its myriad forms where possible. Not out to hurt anyone. Do no harm. Then there’re the tell-tale pop culture references throughout. Especially music, though literary references are a close second and play an important part in the novel (Yhe Great Gatsby, The Magic Mountain. Here, of course, the novel is named after the Beatles song.
On one level this is a novel of young romance. The time when one knows not exactly what that is. Full of heartache and loss. There’s such yearning there. The yearner is Toru Watanabe, who is the narrator of the novel as a 37-year old. On a trip and just about to disembark from a place, he hears the song on the sound system. This sets him on a nostalgic journey back t his days as a Tokyo student, which form the novel
I really do likeMurakami’s’ narrative flow quite a bit. He’s a natural storyteller. Many novelists are not. He’s easy to ‘listen’ to. Easy to read – not to simplify his subject matter. On the latter, they – the things Watannabe goes through – are familiar of course, but driven with such narrative style and depth of feeling, that we look at the familiar anew.
Vietnamese Director Anh Hung Tran has a movie based on the novel in pre-production for release next year.