I used a minor domestic crisis as an excuse to stay at home all day and read a novel. This was so enjoyable that minor domestic crises will soon be a major part of my life if I’m not careful. The novel in question was Norwegian Wood, which is the most successful book by Japan’s best selling author, Haruki Murakami. A friend in Japan, whose judgement I respect a lot, had told me that she’s read it several times and I wanted to find out why the book was so special to her and the millions of other Japanese who have bought it.
Norwegian Wood gets its title from the Beatles song. It’s set in a university in Tokyo, but that shouldn’t put off the English reader because all the cultural references are western and the setting might just as well be London or New York. It’s essentially a love story, but one which even hardened old cynics like me can enjoy not least because there’s a lot of darkness around the edges. It deserves to be much better known here, and I can’t recommend it enough.