Wednesday 19 February 2020

Book Review: Wind/Pinball by Haruki Murakami (Literary Fiction)

Title: Wind/Pinball
Author: Haruki Murakami

Publication Date: 2016 (1979)
Literary Fiction
Bought Copy


Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973 are Haruki Murakami’s earliest novels. They follow the fortunes of the narrator and his friend, known only by his nickname, the Rat. In Hear the Wind Sing the narrator is home from college on his summer break. He spends his time drinking beer and smoking in J’s Bar with the Rat, listening to the radio, thinking about writing and the women he has slept with, and pursuing a relationship with a girl with nine fingers.

Three years later, in Pinball, 1973, he has moved to Tokyo to work as a translator and live with indistinguishable twin girls, but the Rat has remained behind, despite his efforts to leave both the town and his girlfriend. The narrator finds himself haunted by memories of his own doomed relationship but also, more bizarrely, by his short-lived obsession with playing pinball in J’s Bar. This sends him on a quest to find the exact model of pinball machine he had enjoyed playing years earlier: the three-flipper Spaceship. 

These early Murakami works offer exactly what you would expect from Murakami: easy reading, thought-provoking ideas, and a hint of unreality behind the everyday setting. Perhaps these two connected stories are not quite as sophisticated as his later works, but they still make intriguing and fun reading and you can immediately tell who wrote them, as you get that sense of Murakami's distinctive style. If you are new to Murakami's writing I would suggest starting with something like Kafka on the Shore. However, for established fans, these are great reads you will want to add to the Murakami shelf in your library!

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