More than just a love story

Haruki Murakami: Naokos Lächeln. ISBN 978-3-442-73050-6 (English title: Norwegian Wood) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The German edition has the subtitle “Just a love story”. Just a love story? No, this novel is much more. A philosophical essay about love, sexuality, personality development, about adulthood and responsibility. Most important it is a book about men and how lost they are in the realm of conflicting emotions. What a subject! And then there is Murakami’s language that I admire greatly: poetic where poetry is useful, brutally realistic where reality hits the main character, a young Japanese student, in his face. In  many respects this novel reminds me of J. D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” – a book I had to read several times befire I grasped its essence.

Murakami’s novel is a treasure box full allusions to great music: the Beatles obviously (see the English title), jazz legends like Miles Davis and Sarah Vaughn, but then we find Mozart, Ravel and Brahms. One piece I often listened to while reading this novel was Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major:

Brahms’ unfulfilled love – a detached look back