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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle | [Haruki Murakami]

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Toru Okada is going through a difficult time. He is without a job, his cat has disappeared, and his wife is behaving strangely. Into this unbalanced world comes a variety of curious characters, a young girl sunbathing in a nearby garden; sisters who are very peculiar indeed; an old war veteran with a violent, disturbing story. Okada retreats to a deep well in a nearby house. And the story unfolds.
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Publisher's Summary

Toru Okada is going through a difficult time. He is without a job, his cat has disappeared, and his wife is behaving strangely. Into this unbalanced world comes a variety of curious characters, a young girl sunbathing in a nearby garden; sisters who are very peculiar indeed; an old war veteran with a violent, disturbing story. Okada retreats to a deep well in a nearby house. And the story unfolds.

©2006 Haruki Murakami; (P)2006 Naxos AudioBooks

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (1399 )
5 star
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Overall
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4.2 (751 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Hallie south hiram, ME, USA 03-23-09
    Hallie south hiram, ME, USA 03-23-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    64
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    "Fantastic"

    I will miss traveling with Toru Okada through his strange world. This books stays with you for awhile. The narrator, Rupert Degas, was great; I even checked to see if there weren't two readers: one male and the other female. I look forward to listening to more from Murakami.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kyle Seattle, WA 10-08-08
    Kyle Seattle, WA 10-08-08 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    282
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    Overall
    "Very Good."

    I first read this book in its paper form, and loved it. I loved it even more the second time through on audiobook.

    One caveat: while the reader does an excellent job with the male voices, he doesn't do quite so well with the female voices. I think he makes the women sound much more unintelligent than I think was intended by Murakami. Despite that, it is still quite a good listen.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KT All Over the US 06-14-15
    KT All Over the US 06-14-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    10
    8
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    Story
    "Hey Mr Wind-Up Bird!"

    Where to start with this one? OK, just to get this out of the way, you know how people use the phrase "to be comfortable in one's own skin"? Well, let's just say that after this book, I can't hear that phrase without blanching and wanting to scream almost to the point of madness "Stop saying that!!"

    The story overall is pretty mind bending stuff. Don't expect to make sense of it all or you'll go mad. Enjoy it for what it is and try not to think too hard. Trying to find deeper meaning in a Murakami book (but especially this one) may leave you a bit loony.

    As always, Murakami's imagination is second to none. The narrator did such a great job that for most of the book, I had assumed there were 2 narrators - one doing the guys and one doing the women. That's how good his female voices were.

    Overall I loved this book. However, (and I am totally serious here) a cryptic word of warning - with this book, once you listen to it, you can't ever UNlisten to it. There is a section of the book which, while totally and utterly brilliant, may seriously make some people wish that they had never listened to this book in the first place.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adam Oak Ridge, NJ, United States 05-15-15
    Adam Oak Ridge, NJ, United States 05-15-15 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    52
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    "Indecipherable"

    As a fan of David Lynch and other inscrutable directors and writers, I found this one to really be a slog. Made it all the way through but in the end I am not very sure I get what the hubbub is all about. My suggestion is to take 18 of your hours and spend them somewhere else.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    trog 04-09-15
    trog 04-09-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    204
    3
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    Story
    "Nope Book"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    I just could not get into this book. I loved the narrator, but the story was hard to follow.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Haruki Murakami again?

    It hasn't. I just wound up dreading having to listen to it


    Which character – as performed by Rupert Degas – was your favorite?

    I can't tell


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle?

    The narrator was great. I really enjoyed listening to how he performed the different characters.


    Any additional comments?

    I have read 1Q84 and I enjoyed that, but this was such a bore to me

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Attella Long Beach, CA 03-08-15
    A. Attella Long Beach, CA 03-08-15 Member Since 2014

    LilyB612

    ratings
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    Story
    "What a trip."

    Murakami crafts a story so deftly, and so uniquely, as to spoil you for traditional linear storytelling forever. Or is it for past? Or for alternate reality?

    Simply excellent, and with outstanding narration to boot.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christina 11-16-14
    Christina 11-16-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "graphic sex"
    What would have made The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle better?

    I don't like graphic sex in my books.


    What was most disappointing about Haruki Murakami’s story?

    I don't like graphic sex in my books.


    Any additional comments?

    I don't like graphic sex in my books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Graeme Sydney, Australia 03-24-14
    Graeme Sydney, Australia 03-24-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
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    "Enter the strange but charming world of Murakami"

    I really enjoyed this surreal and charming novel. After just finishing reading it, my initial thought is that the charm of the story will be the thing I will end up remembering it for. As an actual story, not a lot actually happens - like an episode of Seinfeld set in the Twilight Zone. Haruki Murakami takes a lost cat, an unemployed man, a series of strange phone calls, a marital split and offbeat characters, adds some seemingly irrelevant subplots involving a Japanese WW2 survivor and psychics and weaves a tale that goes everywhere yet nowhere. I was also amazed at how well a novel translated from Japanese can hold up as literature when read in English.
    This is the second Murakami novel I have read and like the first (1Q84), the book dissolves into a vague ending where you are left wondering how all the various strands related to each other. That is sure to frustrate a lot of readers' but Murakami's magic seems to me to be the charm of the world you are entering when you begin reading his novels and the journey he takes you on.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric 06-13-13
    Eric 06-13-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Crazy story! So Glad I Listened"

    My wife has been begging me to download this book for the longest time. So glad I finally did it.

    The translation from Japanese to English was nearly flawless in my opinion.

    I love the story. The way Haruki Murakami writes makes me feel like I'm tripping on LSD while listening. He gets in you head in such a way that I almost feel like I'm hallucinating and not listening to a book, but actually watching a really weird Japanese Anime movie in my mind. Very Cool!!

    My one and only MAJOR complaint was that narration by Rupert Degas. Specifically, when he reads as a girl character. He sounds completely disturbing and I was actually getting douche chills while listening. The 1st time I heard him read as "May", I almost stopped listening... Not kidding, it that disturbing!!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hayden Fukuoka, Japan 05-29-13
    Hayden Fukuoka, Japan 05-29-13

    Customer

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Narration ruined it."

    Halfway through, I finally can no longer stand it. I will not be finishing this one. Every female character's voice sounds like an exaggerated Richard Simmons. It is completely distracting. I've listened to audiobooks with a male narrator who portrayed women with a simple, hushed tone, or even no change at all while reading for the female characters, and pulled it off brilliantly.
    There is also an "old man" character near the beginning that Degas portrays as a complete caricature of an elderly man, and his breathy, wheezing, unrealistic voice is quite annoying as well. Fortunately, my wife owns the paperback, so I'll just finish this one the old fashioned way.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • A. Clark
    Scotland
    4/25/11
    Overall
    "Mesmerising"

    Brilliant characterisations by an excellent reader, who never loses the thread of this complex and rivetting tale. Having read this unusual and mesmerising book by a favourite author some years ago, I was interested to hear how on earth it could be expressed by one person. Rupert Degas surpasses my expectations with great pacing and balance of all the rich elements, twists and turns of a story which can be a mystery, thriller, action story, philosophical tale of change and self awareness, fantasy and - whatever you make of it! I liked this version very much, and will certainly listen to it again. I found it by turns very funny, puzzling, occasionally violent and shocking, intriguing, mysterious and always fascinating. Recommended if you are looking for something different, by a great writer and superb reader.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • David
    Sandford, Crediton, United Kingdom
    12/16/10
    Overall
    "Very Disappointing"

    This was recommended to me . After reading positive reviews I settled in for some long sessions.
    The male reader has many voices and uses American stereotypes to portray Japanese characters plus a heavy Russian accent for Boris. He has great vocal versatility but many of the characters have cartoonish voices that tried my patience. May Kasahara sounded like Daffy Duck!
    I don't think this is a very good book. Murakami lacks a grip on character and form. He uses implausible metaphysical and magical devices to cheat instead of devising a coherent and satisfying tale. He employs a kind of magical realism which lacks the power and subtlety of Marquez.
    I dislike fiction that relies too heavily on cheap tricks like parallel realities and extended dream sequences because they allow the author to escape the discipline of plausible motivation and good narrative structure. Murakami's characters are unconvincing cyphers deployed in an exercise in mystification.
    Muddle and complexity do not make a book profound. I thought that my endurance would be rewarded in the end so I paid attention and suppressed my irritation at the disjointed structure and unrealistic situations. The language is sometimes ponderous and cliched but that may be the translation. Murakami clearly lacks a good editor as his tale digresses into endless details that go beyond the necessary evocation of place and character. The historical background to the Manchurian campaign was an interesting exception. He describes sadistic and gratuitous violence in loving detail which I endured hoping there was a purpose to my discomfort. Finally I began to think my trust in this author was misplaced but I was nearing the end and didn't wish to prejudge it before all the strands came together. I think this book may appeal to young adult readers who enjoy Twin Peaks and that sort of metaphysical crap. I found it a waste of many hours of listening and I will not be reading Murakami again

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Patrick
    Bangor,, County Down,, United Kingdom
    7/28/10
    Overall
    "Brilliant piece of art."

    I was enthralled by this story as others of this author. From the beginning I never really expected to take to it but I am so pleased I took the chance. It was like the dinner your mom made and you're not sure if you want it; it might taste awful simply by the look of it, but, ah yes, you will have it again. Very entertaining and memorable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • S. O'NEILL
    London UK
    12/12/09
    Overall
    "Curate's Egg"

    I found this a challenging listen. The book is excellently narrated, with convincing voices and a very dramatic quality - but it is long - and though some parts are beautiful, or intriguing, or exciting, or just plain baffling, there are also sections which are rather tedious and don't seem to take the plot anywhere. There are lots of threads which I hoped would somehow be tied together or explained - but in the end, they aren't - so it really is up to the listener to make sense of what is, at times, nonsensical. I must admit by part 3 I decided to play it at a faster speed - which actually worked well as the narration is often very slow - just to get to the end and find out what happened. I can't say that I really did find anything out - and perhaps it is more of a reflection on the reader's own interpretation that is important. Certainly not a book for the faint hearted - and perhaps starting with a shorter novel by the same author would be helpful

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Anthony
    London, United Kingdom
    9/11/09
    Overall
    "Brilliant narration by Rupert Degas"

    This is one of my favourite books: I've read it four times. My first reading made a dreadful holiday in Florida tolerable. Listening to it, however, brings the novel to life in a totally different way. As any audio book listener knows, though, the choice of reader is key. It can make or break the listening experience. Rupert Degas understands Murakami's bizarre world perfectly and voices the diverse array of characters superbly, voicing some of them in ways I had not imagined them whilst reading, especially his California Valley Girl take on the main character's neighbour, May. This is a compliment: his take on them was better than mine and he made me want to listen to the novel again straight away! His interpretation has made me want to listen to everything he has read for audio, even novels I usually would not be interested in. Wonderful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jeremy
    HelsinkiFinland
    7/2/09
    Overall
    "The nature of (un)reality"

    Hmm, didn't quite work for me. Lots of good stuff here; beautiful descriptive narrative, compelling historical war scenes (the best of the book I think), sympathetic and whacky characters, humour, and not least a virtuoso reading performance. But: an utterly unreal/unbelievable plot, dozens of tedious dream sequences (I rarely trust an author who relates lots of dreams), loose ends like I've never met before in a book, and a reliance on magic to drive the plot in what is ostensibly modern day Tokyo made this a tough one for me to finish. If you like Kafka you'll probably enjoy this, it creates similar mental disturbances! For something just as fantasical/magical but utterly convincing try Salman Rushdies's Midnight's Children also available on audible and also with an incredible reader.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Clare
    RichmondUnited Kingdom
    1/22/09
    Overall
    "Is this his Masterpiece?"

    I?ve been so hooked on Murakami that this is the third book in a row I?ve downloaded. It?s full of classic Murakami ingredients and is an enchanting and surreal labyrinth of a tale. On a very broad basic level it?s about a search for a lost cat whilst in reality it?s about so much more. It?s Toro Okada?s search for answers, for people, for his true self and he encounters so many intriguing characters along the way largely made up of defilers and the defiled. I particularly loved May Kasahara a young girl living a few doors down, mainly because of her youthful honesty and humour. We encounter such a diverse selection of characters and situations that you couldn?t possibly believe they could all fit into one tale, from Japanese wartime espionage, days and nights spent at the bottom of a well, conducting surveys for the local Wig making firm and even Psychic sex... and yet it still works. Some say this is his masterpiece however by the time I got to this one I was slightly Murakami?d out! I still prefer his Kafka on the Shore by a long shot however I?ve come to realise that perhaps the first Murakami book you read or listen to whether it be Kafka or Wind-up you will consider not only to be his masterpiece but ?a? masterpiece.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Julie
    Westcliff, Essex, United Kingdom
    1/21/09
    Overall
    "Fantastic reader and great book"

    If I checked that this book was only read by one reader once I did it a hundred times. The variety of voices is unbelievable and I can't recommend Rupert Degas enough as a narrator.
    The story is certainly odd at times so be warned! Saying that it is so well written and you get so drawn in that I am straight off to see what else is available by the same author.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • bullfrog
    10/26/08
    Overall
    "Brilliantly presented!"

    This book is seriously weird. Expect the unexpected - and you will still be surprised. But what really stood out for me was the brilliant reading by Robert Degas. The way he brings the characters to life - from the doom-laden Lietenant Mamiya to the scatty yet death-obsessed teenager May Kasahara - is nothing short of extraordinary. I shall seek out his other readings.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • H. Howell
    UK
    4/8/08
    Overall
    "Riveting"

    I loved this book from the start.
    It is weird but the reader brings all the characters to life and develops an irresistible drive to the story.
    It is about love loss and history, so some pretty common themes. However it comes at these themes from a very different direction.
    i would thoroughly recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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