This book was written in Japanese in 1982 by Haruki Murakami . And even though he is a translator as well as a writer, it was Alfred Birnbaum who wrote the English version in 1989.
Ok, in the plot part it’s the story that should be unfolded just a bit. But I just have to mention what I found striking: the characters in this book have no names. Seriously. It’s the oddest thing. The I-character never tells us his, nor is he addressed with his name in any way. His best friend and partner in business is ‘partner’, his girlfriend whose beautiful ears (when uncovered) improve sex to no limit is just ‘girlfriend’, his ex …. you guessed it. Only the Rat is called Rat, but not even the I-character knows why that is. Maybe I should have mentioned the writer is a surrealist?
so plot: the narrator just divorced his wife he married when 21. He and his best friend have a small but successful publishing agency who publish several brochures and magazines. It’s through this way he met his new girlfriend, because he needed pictures of ears for a promotional campaign. The girl has 3 occupations: proof reader by day, call girl by night and occasional ear model. She is plain and just nice looking when she lets her hair cover her ears. But oh my when she puts her hair back in a tail! She becomes the most attractive girl alive.
He has a friend, the Rat, who took off some years ago and lives a nomadic existence, occasionally writhing him. He send him a picture of some sheep once, and told the narrator to publish the picture in one of his magazines – any reason was good, as long as it just got published. The narrator did so. Not long afterwards he is visited by a man working for the Boss, a person the narrator knows nothing about. Apparently, the Boss is an underground influence and bad guy who pulls the strings in right-winged politics in Japan. This man gives the narrator an impossible task. Either he finds within a month the object of the Boss’s wish – from among the picture of sheep – or he will destroy his publishing company leaving him with nothing…
It’s a great novel. Why? It is humorous, really absurd at times, a bit like a detective novel but only slightly, and curiosity is around every corner. It is so fluent to read, you only notice half way though the book that you actually know no character names (oh I spoiled that for you already). You are taken by the narrator, who is very likeable. You sympathise with him, and just like him, you sometimes go ‘come on? really? that can’t be?’ when reading the strange situations he finds himself into.
I don’t know if this writing of mine incites anyone to read the novel. I have thought and tried to write about this book, but found it hard. Not that it is so difficult a book, but to do it justice was my main concern. Anyway, I invite anyone to take a leap of faith and read it. I for one am curious about his other novels already.
I would like to just say to the one who gave this incredible book that they are amazingly good in guessing what kind of reading I like! Precious.