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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (Japanese: ねじまき鳥クロニクル, Nejimaki-dori Kuronikuru) is a novel by Haruki Murakami. One of his most critically acclaimed and popular works, it opens with the life of Toru Okada, currently unemployed, and his marriage to his wife, Kumiko. One day their cat goes missing. It Gets Worse. It was first published in three parts during 1994-1995.


This Novel Provides Examples Of:

  • Affably Evil: Noboru Wataya is more of a Villain with Good Publicity, but you have to admit, he has an excellent TV personality. Also Boris the Manskinner in Lieutenant Mamiya's story.
  • Author Appeal: Apparently, the author has quite a thing for wells.
  • Author Tract: A good portion of the work concerns the Japanese occupation of Manchuria (Manchukuo) during the 1930's and World War II. Murakami makes no bones about calling the whole affair out as having been a Very Bad Idea.
  • Abusive Parents: Let's face it. Kumiko's parents were absolute shit to all of their children.
  • Cool Big Sis: Kumiko's sister was the only thing that made living in their household bearable to Kumiko. When she died...
    • Malta Kano. Kind of.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: May Kasahara. A bit more levelheaded than most examples, but definitely out there.
    • It's a bizarre thing when the Cloudcuckoolander is by far, one of the most normal and sensible people in the story. The other characters aren't nearly as far out in terms of their thought process, but this is countered by their actions and jobs being outwardly strange(a mind prostitute and her incredibly vague older sister with psychic abilities, a fashion designer who goes out of her way to buy the people around her perfect wardrobes, a dimwitted lackey who cannot stop talking about how stupid and horrible he is to the point where he forgets his reasons for entering the main character's house without permission, and Noboru.
    • All that said, May Kasahara is the only one who thought it would be fun to cover her boyfriends eyes while he was driving his motorcycle. Actually, she didn't even do it for fun; she just felt like doing it.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: See Flaying Alive, below.
  • Determinator: Toru Okada becomes a surprising example of one of these as the book goes on, not giving up his search despite the increasingly bizarre, disturbing, and frightening things going on around him.
  • Doorstopper
  • Dream Sequence
  • Epiphanic Prison: Toru's well.
  • Erotic Dream: Introducing Creta Kano: prostitute of the mind!
  • Flaying Alive: Lieutenant Mamiya witnessed this happen during his service in Manchuria during World War 2; his recollection of the event to Toru is pure High Octane Nightmare Fuel.
  • Full-Name Basis: May Kasahara, Malta Kano, Creta Kano, Noboru Wataya.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted. After Kumiko finds out she's pregnant, she gets an abortion despite her husband supporting the idea of raising a child.
    • Then again, it's debatable how much of a "good girl" she is.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Sadly subverted.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Toru gets an inky blue mark on his face during one of his trips to the hotel.
  • Harassing Phone Call: The novel begins with the narrator keeps getting phone calls from some an unidentified woman trying to initiate phone sex, which starts the chain of strange events that follow him after.
  • Haunted House: The infamous hanging house, though it falls more under Indian Burial Ground.
  • Healing Hands: Nutmeg and later Toru have the ability to take away people's emotional pain and stress with their touch.
  • How Unscientific: The book generally fits into Magical Realism quite well, but the hotel scenes push things into Fantasy territory more than once.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Toru (who's in his mid thirties) and May (who's in her mid-teens).
  • Lampshade Hanging: The narrator states when his wife disappears that "I felt as if I had become part of a badly written novel, that someone was taking me to task for being utterly unreal. And perhaps it was true."
  • Magic Realism: Pretty much par for the course for Murakami works, but this one goes rather darker than most of his other works.
  • Mind Screw: Pretty much the entire book past Chapter 3 or so...
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: "Boris The Manskinner".
  • Odd Friendship: Toru and May.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: The book is practically built on symbolic dreams.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: The passwords for Cinnamon's computer are "Zoo" and "Sub", relating to the stories his mother told him.
    • Later on, invoked by Ushikawa.
  • Perky Goth: May Kasahara is the Japanese equivalent.
  • Screw the Rules I Have Plot
  • Shadow Archetype: Toru Okada, the protagonist, and Noburu Wataya are described by Creta Kano as complete opposites, with each one serving as a representation of what the other person loathes most. No wonder they hate each other so much.
  • Strange Girl: May Kasahara.
  • Talkative Loon: Quite a few of the characters.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Noburu Wataya is an incredibly famous author and TV personality, and by the end of the book he's being considered for a position on Japan's Diet.
  • The Voiceless: Cinnamon lost his ability to speak after a traumatic dream in his childhood. He can still communicate effectively via an idiosyncratic form of sign language.
  • Thrown Down a Well: Toru spends a rather large amount of time in the well in the 'hanging house'.
    • Also Lieutenant Mamiya which is where Toru gets the idea.
  • We Named the Monkey "Jack": The narrator named his cat Noburu Wataya after his hated brother-in-law. The cat gets a better name later on, after Toru decides that it was unfair to the animal.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: The whole book is LOADED with symbolism, especially in the narrator's dreams.
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different??: Kumiko's parents were never satisfied with her, and constantly compared her to her sister, even forcing her to play the piano like her sister used to before she died. This is the direct cause for her crippling inferiority complex, which is later manipulated by Noburu.
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