Thoughts on Haruki Murakami’s “Norwegian Wood”

Jaheed Hussain
Nov 18, 2018 · 3 min read

So, I’m currently in my third year of university and one of my modules requires us to look at live competition briefs, choose a couple to partake in and really exhaust our design capabilities for it. I’m a huge fan of Penguin Books. I went to their student design awards section and scrolled down until I stumbled across Norwegian Wood…

I knew, by reading the brief and what it specified, this is the one I’ll be working on. I got a copy of the book and started to read. A couple of days on from then and I’m in awe. I’ve never come across Murakami and his work but after reading the first few pages of Norwegian Wood, I became hooked.

Quite literally, my mind and thoughts became centered around every word – the introductory paragraph, the characters and emotional journey every page took me on, reinvigorated me. Without spoiling anything, I’ll try to explain what I got from reading the book.

“This book is brilliant” I likely said that aloud after every couple of chapters because the story is relatable in certain, distinct ways. Personally, the storytelling and experiences certain characters introduce, helped me feed off the nostalgic atmosphere Norwegian Wood creates. Meaning, within the first couple of pages — the reader is attached. That’s how I felt when I realised that this is something I’m enjoying. At times, I felt overwhelmed. Maybe because of the emotional aspect of the book? Or my own personal experiences? Either way, I knew that this book had a purpose.

Through melancholy, atmospheric changes in scenes and chapters, it takes you through Toru Watanabe’s experiences as a student and generally within life but it unusually captures a more meaningful perspective instead when introducing other, introspective characters. Essentially, Toru is given a dilemma, become attached to the past or let go and be a apart of his own future. I believe this is why it’s such a popular and successful book, it’s unusual in Murakami’s way and it’s refreshing to read something like it. The book encourages interpretation towards the end which allows that personal experience for the reader as well. As a creative, one of my most important decisions when creating things, is to decide if I want my piece to be interpretive - so from that perspective, I can relate in that way too.

I came up with a line that (I feel) expresses the story from Toru’s perspective near it’s ending and it’s a quite depressing outlook toward the tail-end however, the reader knows he’s managed to prosper and develop as a person despite the issues he faces across his young adult life. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know what I mean.

I now have to come up with a book cover design that takes everything I’ve said and merges it together to create something vivid and imaginative and hopefully, I can do the book justice…

Buy the book here.

Jaheed Hussain

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A freelance Graphic Designer based in Manchester, England who likes to talk about stuff. Get in touch!

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