I loved reading this book and found myself taking my time to really enjoy the beautifully constructed sentences. I was a little surprised at first – I knew very little about it, other than it was regarded as one of his finest works, but having read some of his more surreal novels such as Kafka on the Shore, I guess I was expecting something else.
This isn’t as bizarre, but it certainly is as beautiful. It is the story of two years in the life of Toru Watanabe, a confused young teen, who isn’t really sure of his purpose in life, and yet has an impact over the lives of others without really realising it. He comes across as somewhat cold, and yet is somehow endearing. It is the late 1960s in Japan, and he is studying at the university in Tokyo, where his life is complicated by his relationship with two rather intense young women. Essentially it is a love story, of sorts, but one deeply influenced by death and melancholy. It somehow feels a very real book, where nobody is truly happy. But where moments of happiness exist they shine and have so much more meaning. It moves along at a slow pace, and can be depressing in places, and yet I loved it. I especially liked some of the female characters, Midori and Reiko in particular.