About the author
Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto, Japan, in 1949. He grew up in Kobe and graduated from Waseda University in Tokyo. He is the author of several novels, including The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, and Kafka on the Shore, some non-fiction, numerous short stories and essays. He has received many literary awards both in Japan and internationally, and his work has been translated into about forty languages. Murakami has also translated several works by American authors into Japanese, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Carver, Raymond Chandler and others.
[Information taken from the Random House Murakami site]
For a more detailed biography, check out the following links:
Murakami: Titan of postwar literature (The Japan Times)
Marathon Man (The Guardian)
Jazz Messenger (The New York Times)
About the book
羊をめぐる冒険 (Hitsuji o meguru bōken) was first published in Japan in 1982, and won the Noma Bungei Shinjin Sho (Noma Literary Award for New Writers). It was then published in English in 1989. A Wild Sheep Chase is Murakami's third book and the third book in the Trilogy of the Rat, preceded by Hear the Wind Sing, and Pinball, 1973. However, the two earlier books were never officially released in English outside of Japan, although they can be ordered from Amazon Japan, and other places online. A Wild Sheep Chase is also followed by a sequel of sorts, Dance Dance Dance.
Blurb from the Random House Murakami site:
It begins simply enough: A twenty-something advertising executive receives a postcard from a friend, and casually appropriates the image for an insurance company's advertisement. What he doesn't realize is that included in the pastoral scene is a mutant sheep with a star on its back, and in using this photo he has unwittingly captured the attention of a man in black who offers a menacing ultimatum: find the sheep or face dire consequences. Thus begins a surreal and elaborate quest that takes our hero from the urban haunts of Tokyo to the remote and snowy mountains of northern Japan, where he confronts not only the mythological sheep, but the confines of tradition and the demons deep within himself. Quirky and utterly captivating, A Wild Sheep Chase is Murakami at his astounding best.Other Murakami sources on A Wild Sheep Chase:
The New Yorker Book Club
First a few general questions:
What did you think of A Wild Sheep Chase?
If you've read the first two books in the Trilogy of the Rat, how do they compare?
How does this book compare to other Murakami titles that you've read?
Any favourite scenes? Or characters?
What do you think of the narrator? The Rat?
Did you think the characters and their relationships were believable or realistic?
What did you think of Murakami's use of language, and writing style? Did you make a note of any memorable quotes?
How do you feel about the translation? Did it read smoothly?
And a few more in-depth questions that I found online at Book Rags:
Throughout the novel, the mystical sheep invades several hosts for various purposes, such as building an empire and transportation to a new host. What or who do you think the sheep represents?
There are no proper names used in the entire novel. Why do you think the author chose not to include these names? Do you believe this style helped or harmed the story?
In Chapter 24, the main character, his girlfriend, and the limo driver discuss the naming of things, places, and creatures. The limo driver believes names depend on physical fixation, free will, and an emotional attachment to humans. Why do you believe we name some areas and things, such as ball parks and boats, but not others?
Do you believe the main character was selfish in his behavior when he accepted his girlfriend's assistance on the sheep chase? If not, why do you believe he accepted her assistance, knowing she would be in danger?
The Sheep Man is an interesting character; however, the novel does not clearly explain his origin. Who or what do you believe the Sheep Man represents within the novel?
Do you believe the main character changed over the course of the novel? If so, in what ways? If not, why do you believe he is unable to change, even in the face of his experiences?
The girlfriend as well as the personal secretary appeared to have a sixth sense, in that they were able to sense things about others without prior knowledge of the individual or situation. Where you believe these powers come from for each character?
As I mentioned yesterday, I'm nowhere near done A Wild Sheep Chase, due to spending most of my time on the weekend working on the new blog template, when I should have been reading. However, over the last week I did read both Hear the Wind Sing, and Pinball, 1973. I enjoyed both books and look forward to getting back to A Wild Sheep Chase. In the meantime, feel free to discuss any of the questions above, or ask any other questions that you may have, and I'll join in once I'm done. For those that haven't yet read the book, please note that the comments may contain spoilers so please proceed at your own risk!
A Wild Sheep Chase reviewed by:
Tony's Reading List
Polishing Mud Balls
If you've posted about A Wild Sheep Chase on your blog, let me know and I'll add the link here.
Thanks for taking part! I hope you enjoyed our first group read for 'Murakami March'. I hope you'll also consider joining us for the read-along of The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. We'll be discussing Book One on March 15th, Book Two on April 15th, and Book Three on May 15th. We'll also be discussing Dance Dance Dance, the sequel to A Wild Sheep Chase, on March 29th. So there's still plenty of time to grab either book and join in. Also don't forget that by reading the book and joining in this discussion, you can have a chance to win a copy of either Hear the Wind Sing or Pinball, 1973. Just visit the Hello Japan! March mini-challenge post to enter the links to any of your related Murakami posts.
Photo source: Random House Australia
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