This 1987 novel takes its title from the Beatles song, which the main character, Toru, hears on a plane to Germany. It takes him back decades when he heard the tune strummed at a sanatorium deep in the woods north of Kyoto. Toru had traveled there to visit Naoko, a fragile girl with whom he had fallen in love after the suicide of her boyfriend (who happened to be his best friend). While still under Naoko’s moody spell, Toru meets Midori, a fellow college student who, unlike the current object of his obsession, exudes strength and energy. Toru must wrestle with devotion, despair and desire as he finds himself pulled between two very different lives. Like the familiar Beatles refrain, Norwegian Wood strikes a universal and memorable chord.
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