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Sometimes, pieces of art are what they are. They are simply art; they are simply what they are shown to be. At other times, when our minds are free and the days are sunny, and the thoughts unravel at a pace which I cannot describe out here, we stumble across a piece of art that speaks. Yes, it does and it does to whosoever is not blinded by the beauty of it. Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood is a piece of art that speaks to me. I have seen through its faults, one and two, scattered in between, but I have no qualms in saying that here is a book which should be treated with reverence, praised and loaded with all the adjectives that one can scour the earth for.

Norwegian Wood starts with the thirty-year-old protagonist Toru Watanabe, reminiscing about his lost youth and the chances that might have been if he had had the fortune or the courage to see them through. He talks of Kizuki, his best friend and Kizuki’s girlfriend Naoko, who Toru loves. He talks to us about the love he experienced for Naoko and the inexplicable feelings that come to him, unbeckoned, but at the speed of light, when he sees them together. Kizuki dies and Toru and Naoko are left to pick up the pieces. Both go their separate ways, in dealing with the suffered incident, Naoko suffers from suicidal depression while Toru delves into leading a life of continued debauchery by sleeping with as many women as he could during his University years, though he loves Naoko even then.

Norwegian Wood is a sort of book which evokes different sorts of reactions and feelings from the person, depending on the person. If you are a teenager who is reading the book, then you might feel the complete urge to go and weep silently in a corner of your room, after you have put out the lights. You will probably look around and wonder if anyone can see you, knowing very well, no one cannot, since the room is dark and there is no one in the house except you. You will cry because you will want to be Toru if there is no incident of tragic significance that has ever happened to you and you will cry if there has been something akin that has occurred.

If you are a thirty something-year-old reader, then you would close the book, keeping a finger in the middle of the book where the page has not been marked so that you do not have to search till where you did read, but believe me, you will think about it. You will think about your youth, reminisce about the old friends and the girlfriends, that particular one who mattered the most but who got lost in your past, yes, you will think about them all. All the had-beens and the what-if’s. And then you will feel sad and tragic and you would wish you were Toru.

And that’s where the greatness of the book lies. Murakami has created a master-piece that speaks to us, his character Toru is nothing great, has achieved nothing of significance except for the fact that he is immortalized by Murakami and we are not. And that is where Norwegian Wood lives on, succeeds, cries a little, and shoulders on no matter how hard the rain is on the streets outside, no matter how tragic the love is.

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