Review: “Hear the Wind Sing” (The Rat #1) by Haruki Murakami

I know I read and review a lot of Murakami’s novels (this is the 8th book of his that I’ve read). I picked this one up because I read somewhere that it was never printed in English outside of Japan. It’s also the first novel Murakami wrote (it was published in 1979), and the epub edition is only 57 pages long. I saw no reason not to read it considering it wasn’t much of an investment, and the other book I’m reading is taking a while.

I wasn’t particularly impressed with the book. It failed to engage me as most of his other books have done. I’ll pass that off as part of the learning process for a young writer. Other than that, I suppose I don’t have much to complain about. While the book did not engage me, I still found that I could connect at least a little bit with the characters; they’re the same dispirited, slightly depressed, lost people that I find in Murakami’s other works, and they fit me perfectly.

The book is organized in a strange way, in that it jumps time periods and in general is just a little abstract (though not as abstract as, say, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World). There were no elements of the supernatural in it, which I enjoyed.

One thing about Murakami’s writing that I especially like is his habit of throwing in non sequiturs that often don’t seem to have any relevance to the story (and often don’t). But they can be amusing and offer insight into a character. For example, in Hear the Wind Sing, the protagonist says of one character:

The Rat’s favorite food was pancakes. He’d pile a bunch of them up on a deep plate and cut them neatly into four sections, then pour a bottle of Coca Cola on top of them.

Does this contribute anything to the story as a whole? Probably not, but it does tell us something about the Rat, and it is amusing.

All in all, I think the book is worth reading if you’re already a fan of Murakami or want a quick introduction to him. If not, there are better things out there.

Find Hear the Wind Sing on Goodreads.

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