Context | Slowly but surely Murakami is becoming one of my most read authors! After reading “1Q84“, “Kafka on the Shore“, and “Norwegian Wood”, next on the list was “A Wild Sheep Chase”. The first time I heard about this book was when a very good friend of mine told me that one of her work colleagues was so into “A Wild Sheep Chase” that he even got a tattoo of a sheep! So when I spotted this vintage copy in a second hand bookstore, I knew I had to see what it was all about. And I’m very glad I picked it!
In a nutshell | The book tells the story of an actual chase for a sheep. Through a series of events, the protagonist (and narrator) is assigned the task of finding the magical sheep that was spotted in a newspaper photograph. We have travelling elements, new and old friendships, and a limbo-feeling combined with a lot of snow. It is a mix of detective story and self-discovery plot, including a significant touch of magical realism (of course, we’re talking about Murakami here!).
Trilogy | After reading the book I found out that it is actually the third book of a trilogy – “The Trilogy of the Rat”, which has a common point a male character named “The Rat”. The other two books of the trilogy are “Hear the Wind Sing” and “Pinball, 1973”. It seems that there is also a sequel that continues the adventures of The Rat – “Dance, Dance, Dance”. However, the book is said to be sufficiently different to be considered separate from “The Trilogy of the Rat”.
Overall impression | I liked a lot reading “A Wild Sheep Chase”. It is a very “Murakamian” book, with weird happenings and magical creatures (the sheep, in this case). So if you like Murakami in general, I’m pretty sure you will enjoy reading this book. I would say it’s a lighter read than the other books I read by Murakami, but that’s not necessarily something bad.
The sheep | In terms of philosophical discussions, one thought lingered in my mind after finishing the story – what was the meaning of the sheep metaphor? Deriving from the context I thought it can be Ambition, Power, but that is in contrast with the classical analogy of sheep, which are simple followers. Then I found an interesting post written by BiblioJunkie where it is nicely explained that “the star-shaped sheep represents the Will“. And it actually does make sense:
“Having a star-stained sheep to represent a Will (or a will to fight communism) is a clever analogy. A normal sheep has no will, it is a follower. But to have a sheep which stood out from the crowd represents some sort of revolutionary or rebellious will.” (BiblioJunkie)
Reading Murakami | Talking about insights, while reading the book I had an insight related to the way Murakami should be read – just take for granted whatever is happening in the book. When characters talk about fish that fall from the sky, or seeing two moons on the sky, or a sheep inhabiting a man, you should simply accept that it is something plausible in that universe and take it for granted. Don’t start doubting, it just raises frustrations and reading the book is not enjoyable anymore. Just go with the flow 🙂
Wrap-up | To conclude, reading “A Wild Sheep Chase” was a pleasurable experience and it certainly increased my appetite for reading Murakami! I am now thinking about reading the other books of “The Trilogy of the Rat”. If you have any recommendations, please let me know!
Book covers | If you’re curious how the book’s covers are illustrated around the world, check out this post: Book covers around the world: A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami.
‘Till next time … happy reading and Happy New Year!