Book Review: Hear the Wind Sing

Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami, published by Kodansha, 1995. (Amazon)

Haruki Murakami's first book, Hear the Wind Sing, published in 1979 (Alfred Birnbaum's English translation in 1987) exhibits many of his later trademarks, though on a much smaller scale, clocking in at 130 pages and fitting nicely in a coat pocket.The author's time spent in America comes across not only in direct references to American culture (mostly music) but in a peculiar universal placelessness during the story, broken only by the rare mention of Tokyo or a place in and around the city. This novel (or novella) sets up Murakami's atypical narrative techniques (jumping around in time, mainly) that would pervade later books to a greater extent. The most startling revelation - for somebody who's read later Murakami books before his first - is the immediate presence of wells. In The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, a backyard well plays a prominent role in the main character's story; here a brief description of a sci-fi book by a fictional author called The Wells of Mars is present for no clear reason than perhaps to entice the reader to expect the unexpected, something Murakami has accomplished ever since.