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The Tale of Genji
Murasaki Shikibu, Royall Tyler
She Rises
Kate Worsley
Hear the Wind Sing - Haruki Murakami, Alfred Birnbaum This is Murakami's first novel and it is not published outside of Japan because for some reason, he doesn't like it. The same with the following book - Pinball 1973. If you want them you will have to look for them on the internet.

When I first tried searching for these books they were about £50 but they have come down since then - I got this one for about £13 including postage through ebay. If you're a Murakami nut, then it's worth it.

I wasn't actually expecting this to be much, having heard it isn't as good as his others... so I found myself pleasantly surprised to really enjoy it.

It's definitely very Murakami-ish and carries similar themes that pop up in his other works - relationships, alienation, wells and the strange contemplation of otherwise mundane things. Also, descriptions of eating, music, drinking. He takes the ordinary and twists it.

It is about an unnamed narrator who is friends with a character known as 'The Rat' who appears in other books as well - Pinball 1973, A Wild Sheep Chase and Dance Dance Dance. Hear the Wind Sing is the first in the Rat series.

The story starts off with the narrator contemplating how he came to write his first novel - inspired by a fictional sci-fi author 'Derek Heartfield'. The story takes place over 18 days, according to this nameless narrator. Yet to me, it felt as if time fluctuated – between his present contemplations and the past, his conversations with the Rat and his conversations with the girl. There are the strange little stories that seem to wind their way in - summaries of 'Heartfield's' novels and a couple of other strange little interjections from the radio. Who is the narrator, why is he writing this novel – if indeed he is? (Who is the Rat?)

It feels like the strands of a life that have been tied together at some point as they float through space.

I really enjoyed it and wish Murakami would consent to it being published outside of Japan. It is his first novel and feels very much like the jumping board into all of his other works. Strange, peculiar and worthy of a re-read or two.