His life was like his recurring nightmare: a train to nowhere.
But an ordinary life has a way of taking an extraordinary turn.
Add a girl whose ears are so exquisite that, when uncovered, they improve sex a thousand-fold, a runaway friend, a right-wing politico, an ovine-obsessed professor and a manic-depressive in a sheep outfit, implicate them in a hunt for a sheep, that may or may not be running the world, and the upshot is another singular masterpiece from Japan's finest novelist.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 304 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 20/04/2000
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780099448778
Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.
Review by lmckend
Its hard to explain how this book succeeds. Rather than enjoying the book as a whole it perhaps best to read it as a series of loosely interwoven short stories or episodes with the sheep chase running through as a unifying theme.The initial scene is set with a brief description of the main characters university life and a relationship (meaningless sex) he has with the 'the girl who'd sleep with anyone'. Despite the exciting times, referred to only briefly as the 'shambles of the late sixties', even then he is bored, disconnected, drifting: "The times were shifting; only I stood still". This brief opening episode over its fast forward eight years, the girl who'd sleep with anyone has died. He returns home from the funeral drunk, where his wife is waiting for him, only to leave him that night. Almost immediately the novel's quirkiness asserts itself as he meets a girl whose sensational ears he finds irresistable. In fact, the episodes describing the effect the ears have on him are worth the price of the novel alone. Enter the sheep - he has been sent a picture of a sheep with a strange marking on its back by a friend of his, 'The Rat'. He uses this image in a corporate brochure produced by his small advertising/pr firm. This attracts the interest of the 'strange man', right hand man to the Boss, a shadowy right wing figure who wields incredible behind the scenes power in the advertising and political world. The boss is dieing and he is bullied into starting a search for the sheep in the image, which has some sort of connection to the Boss's power. This takes him on a journey further and further into rural northern Japan. The more he travels and the closer he gets to the sheep the more surreal the novel becomes. From the city to smaller towns, and several hotels along the way. In fact much of the novel evokes a similar feeling to that I had when watching 'Lost in Translation', almost as if the main character is as bemused by the Japan he finds himself in as Bill Murray's character is. On the whole the contrast between the dead pan prose and the surreal characters and situations are unique and often funny. It requires a little more suspension of disbelief than you'd expect from reading the first few pages, and despite the episodic nature of the novel its ultimate effect is just about more than the sum of its parts. On the basis of this I'd definitely read more Murakami.
Review by gks
Loved it! A typically surreal, yet thoroughly engaging tale.
Review by DRFP
A solid, mid-tier Murakami novel. Definitely a progression from his first two works but still not fully refined. Funny, and a good read, but not Murakami's best, nor his worst either.
Review by xuebi
In <i>A Wild Sheep Chase</i>, the nameless protagonist and his girlfriend with extraordinarily charistmatic ears embark on a quest to find a mysterious sheep with a star on its back. The quest leads the protagonist from Tokyo to Sapporo, whereupon all manner of bizarre and unique characters intervene to drive the quest forward: a crazed man in a sheep outfit, a runaway best friend, an ovine-obsessed professor, and a comatose right-wing politician; the sheep for which they all search is rumoured to enable great success but at a cost - the domination of the person by the sheep.<br/><br/>This bizarre journey is a post-modern fantasy/mystery story that captures a snapshot of 1970s post-war Japanese culture while delivering a remarkable and exciting story. Though it builds slowly: Murakami explores in detail the background of the protagonist and his life in Tokyo, the story advances methodically and rhythmically, drawing the reader deeper in, searching for the mystery sheep.<br/><br/>The translation by Alfred Birnbaum captures elegantly Murakami's writing style and his ability to create incredibly poetic writing about the most mundane, everyday matters.