When results for the 2013 Nobel Prize for literature was announced last Friday, I was disappointed to learn that Haruki Murakami did not win it (again) in spite of being the hot favorite in the run up to the competition (again!). A big congratulation to Alice Munro for bagging the prestigious award this year, though I am certainly still hoping that my all-time favorite Japanese author would one day win a Nobel.
I had recently finished “Norwegian Wood,” one of the early Murakami books that became popular in Japan, following the narrator Toru Watanabe and his nostalgic remembrance of his college life in Tokyo. In spite of the lack of distinct crescendos, I found that the plot slowly grew on me with in a quiet and overwhelmingly sad way through Toru’s quaint, nostalgic memories.
When I discussed with a Japanese friend about Murakami, he told me his books are too dark for him, but it is precisely because he attempts to discuss about humanity’s most sinister and weakest moments without the sugar coating that draws readers in. Norwegian Wood, as with most of Murakami’s works, has themes of loneliness, sexuality and loss all presented as a matter of fact to readers.
Below is my favorite quote from Norwegian Wood and listen it together with the Beatles similar titled song:
“I had learned one thing from Kizuki’s death, and I believed that I had made it a part of myself in the form of a philosophy: “Death exists, not as the opposite but as a part of life.”
By living our lives, we nurture death. True as this might be, it was only one of the truths we had to learn. What I learned from Naoko’s death was this: no truth can cure the sadness we feel from losing a loved one. No truth, no sincerity, no strength, no kindness, can cure that sorrow. All we can do it see that sadness through to the end and learn something from it, but what we learn will be no help in facing the next sadness that comes to us without warning.”