A Wild Sheep Chase

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Overview

A marvelous hybrid of mythology and mystery, A Wild Sheep Chase is the extraordinary literary thriller that launched Haruki Murakami's international reputation.

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, ...
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A Wild Sheep Chase

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Overview

A marvelous hybrid of mythology and mystery, A Wild Sheep Chase is the extraordinary literary thriller that launched Haruki Murakami's international reputation.

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.

Modern Japanese fiction will not be seen in the same light again. The American debut of Japan's premier contemporary writer introduces a fresh, irreverent tale with a 30-year-old modern-day hero.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Immensely popular in Japan, the author's first novel to be published here is a comic combination of disparate styles: a mock-hardboiled mystery, a metaphysical speculation and an ironic first-person account of an impossible quest. The narrator is a modern Japanese yuppie: divorced, in a mildly exciting relationship and a much less exciting job as an ad copywriter, he lives unexceptionally until a photograph throws his life into chaos. The snapshot, which he uses to illustrate a newsletter, shows a field of sheep with one unique crossbreed, and the picture is special enough to have attracted the attention of both the nomadic friend who sent it to him and a right-wing Mr. Big who, moribund, wants the source found before he dies. The Boss's henchman, a sleek, scary majordomo, gives the narrator one month to track it down, and the story that ensues is a postmodern detective novel in which dreams, hallucinations and a wild imagination are more important than actual clues. With the help of a fluid, slangy translation, Murakami emerges as a wholly original talent. $30,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates. (Oct.)
Library Journal
This novel, the American debut of a popular contemporary Japanese writer, will have a familiar ring to Western ears. The narrative moves adroitly through mystery, fable, pensive realism, and modernist absurdity to tell the tale--at least on the surface--of a Japanese man caught up in a puzzling quest for a somewhat mystical sheep. The spare style echoes Raymond Carver, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler, with matter-of-fact absurdities reminiscent of John Irving and, in less inspired moments, Tom Robbins. While the climax of the story is somewhat unrewarding, many readers will enjoy being pulled along by the playful and engaging style and fluid structure. Interesting as an example of current Japanese writing and as an unusually hip and irreverent look at contemporary Japanese society, this would be a nice addition to larger fiction collections.-- Mark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll., N.Y.
From the Publisher
“Murakami is a mythmaker for the millennium, a wiseacre wiseman.” –New York Times Book Review

"A delight . . . equal parts screwball comedy, detective story, and heroic quest." –USA Today

“A witty adventure . . . a piece of verbal anarchy . . . a labyrinthine mystery from start to finish.” –San Francisco Chronicle

"Marvelously engaging, at turns witty, dry, wicked, even loopy. Reading A Wild Sheep Chase is like spending a splendidly foul weekend with the Four Raymonds–Chandler, Carver, Massey, and Queneau."–Frederick Barthelme

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9789626344149
  • Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks Ltd.
  • Publication date: 7/1/2006
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Pages: 8
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Haruki Murakami

Born in Kyoto, Japan, in 1949, Haruki Murakami grew up in Kobe and now lives near Tokyo. The most recent of his many honors is the Yomiuri Literary Prize, whose previous recipients include Yukio Mishima, Kenzaburo Oe, and Kobo Abe. His work has been translated into more than fifty languages.

Biography

The The story of how Haruki Murakami decided to become a novelist says a lot about his work, because it is as strange and culturally diffuse as the works he writes. While watching a baseball game in Toyko in 1978 between the Yakult Swallows and the Hiroshima Carp, Murakami witnessed an American hit a double. At the crack of the bat, Murakami -- who had never had any ambition to write because he assumed he didn't have the talent -- decided that he should begin a novel. He then started his first book, in the night hours after work.

If you're waiting for a connection between the double and the epiphany, there isn't one. It's often that way in Murakami's fiction, where cultures blend and seemingly incongruous, inexplicable events move the story forward. People disappear or transform as quickly as the worlds around them, and the result is a dreamlike atmosphere that blends mystery, magic realism and sci-fi while remaining unmistakably distinct from all three.

Murakami was brought up in a suburb of Kobe by parents who were teachers of Japanese literature; but the literature of his parents did not interest him and he read mostly American authors, listened to American jazz and watched American shows. For this reason, though his books are set in Japan and originally written in Japanese, they do not seem terribly foreign to English speakers. South of the Border, West of the Sun's title derives from a Nat King Cole song; and you're as likely to find a reference to McDonald's, Cutty Sark or F. Scott Fitzgerald as you are to anything Japanese.

Murakami began his career with the coming-of-age novels Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball 1973, but he hit his stride with A Wild Sheep Chase, a novel about a twentysomething ad executive who is drawn into the quest for an elusive, mutant sheep. The novel appeared in the U.S. seven years after its 1982 publication, introducing American audiences to this unclassifiable author. It contained many of the traits that mark Murakami's novels: a solitary male protagonist who drifts just outside society; first-person narration; and philosophical passages nestled within outlandish, unconventional plots. An admiring New York Times Book Review called Murakami a "mythmaker for the millennium."

The author's commercial breakthrough in Japan had come with the publication of Norwegian Wood in 1987, which sold two million copies. The story of a man who becomes involved with his best friend's girlfriend after the friend's suicide, it stands alone as the author's most straightforward, realistic work. Murakami acknowledges the book's impact on his career, and stands behind it; but he is also aware that it represented a departure from the surreal books that had made him a "cult" author with a modest following. "After Norwegian Wood, I have not written any purely realistic novels," Murakami said in a 2001 publisher's interview, "and have no intention of writing any more at this time."

Murakami's return to surrealism with Dance Dance Dance (the sequel to A Wild Sheep Chase), however, did not slow his career growth. Further translations of his work and publication of his stories in the New Yorker assured a growing following in the States, where his best known (and, to some, his best) work is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which appeared here in 1997. It's a masterful work that draws together all of the themes Murakami had been exploring in his fiction up until then: modern ennui, the unpredictability of relationships, a haunting backdrop of Japanese history.

In addition to his sublime and profoundly strange short stories and novels (Sputnik Sweetheart; Kafka on the Shore; Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, etc.), Murakami has made occasional forays into nonfiction -- most notably with Underground, a compilation of interviews with victims of the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, and his 2008 memoir of the New York City Marathon, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. He has also translated several works by American authors into Japanese, including title by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Carver, and John Irving.

Good To Know

Murakami owned a small jazz bar in Tokyo for seven years after college, an experience that he enjoyed and called upon when creating the main character of South of the Border, West of the Sun, who also owns a Tokyo jazz bar.

Murakami's first three novels, -- Hear the Wind Sing, Pinball 1973, and A Wild Sheep Chase -- comprise The Trilogy of the Rat.

His most often cited influences are Raymond Chandler, Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan.

Murakami told an interviewer from Publishers Weekly in 1991 that he considers his first two novels, Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball 1973 "weak," and was not eager to have them translated into English. The translations were published, but are not available in the U.S. Third novel A Wild Sheep Chase was "the first book where I could feel a kind of sensation, the joy of telling a story. When you read a good story, you just keep reading. When I write a good story, I just keep writing."

Daniel Handler, aka children's author Lemony Snicket, is a vocal fan of Murakami's who once wrote a review/paean to the author in the Village Voice entitled "I Love Murakami." "Haruki Murakami is our greatest living practitioner of fiction," he wrote. "....The novels aren't afraid to pull tricks usually banned from serious fiction: They are suspenseful, corny, spooky, and hilarious; they're airplane reading, but when you're through you spend the rest of the flight, the rest of the month, rethinking life."

Murakami has taught at Princeton University, where he wrote most of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and Tufts University. The twin disasters of a gas attack on the Tokyo subway and the Kobe earthquake in 1995 drew the author back to Japan from the United States.

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    1. Hometown:
      Tokyo, Japan
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 12, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      Kyoto, Japan
    1. Education:
      Waseda University, 1973
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

A marvelous hybrid of mythology and mystery, A Wild Sheep Chase is the extraordinary literary thriller that launched Haruki Murakami’s international reputation.

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.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 64 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(37)

4 Star

(17)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 64 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The worst of Murakami is still better than most.

    The headline pretty much sums it up. I love Murakami so I liked this book. However, in comparison with his other works, I found this one a bit scattered and affected. I wouldn't recommend this book if it's your first Murakami-you might get discouraged; instead, try: Kafka on the Shore, Norwegian Wood, Sputnik Sweetheart (a good starter book), or The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 27, 2011

    Great ending

    I would recommend this book because it draws you in in the beginning so as you read it gest more and more interesting.I really like the author's style which is very discriptive, that mekes it easy to understand.Overall the sory is not the best but it also teaches you that when you find somethin that gets your attention to hold on to the and which is the best part of it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2001

    A Wonderous Follow Up

    This book is, unbeknownst to most readers of the English edition, actually the third book in a serious, the first two being 'Listen to the Sound of the Wind' and 'Pinball in 1973.' However, I do not believe these have been translated into English yet. Hopefully they will be soon. As I haven't read this book in English, I cannot comment on the translation, but I know that this is a fabulous book to follow up the first two and surpasses them. The main character has such a deep soul in a shallow world, and so lonely. I cannot wait to read the next in the series, 'Dance, Dance, Dance.'

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2014

    Good and as expected strange (-:

    As with other of his works, this is not an author I could recommend easily; books written in the first person, with deep descriptions, stopping to go over the biography of almost every character the main actor speaks with, characters that may seem important dropping with their part unresolved, and the story morphing into others as the book progresses can pose a challenge. Now, if you are looking to start on him, this may be the easiest of his books to read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2013

    Mystery

    This book was interesting for me, new setting in modern day Japan
    Witty descriptions, thoughtful writing, it held my attention all the way through
    I am hoping to read more from this unusual author

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2013

    Awesome

    Great read by the master of the surreal

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2013

    Favorite

    Book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2012

    Great novel

    One of best books I've read

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  • Posted January 21, 2012

    Excellent!

    Murikam's sense of humor really comes out in this book. I love the dialogue and the visual perspective I get from his books. Makes me wish I could read Japanese so nothing was lost in the translation.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 19, 2011

    What is all the hype about?

    I was really looking forward to reading this book. As an avid reader I was lured to the promise of suspense and mystery. I could not have been more disappointed. I found the characters boring and lacking depth. Having discussed my thoughts with other readers I was assured it would get better the more I read. I found it actually hard to read due to the fact that I was so bored by the story and lack of dimension to the characters and storyline. Maybe I just don't "get" Murakami's writing style or maybe this book just wasn't what I wanted it to be. Again, I really wanted to like this book but just found it flat.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 19, 2011

    Fantastic

    Love all murakami, this is one of my favorites

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  • Posted April 8, 2010

    Compelling

    This book is not an easy read. But then which Murakami is? I do believe I have to go back and reread it to understand it better, but it is marvellously written, the story is sad, compelling, the characters, once again, absorbing and the mysticism is not missing either. A great, great read, with a style so magnificent that your heart aches. I love the way Murakami builds up a magical, surreal world, that at the same time seems inexplicably real and tangible. It is so good to read writers who can truly show how their thoughts turn.
    I recommend it to everyone who likes good fiction.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2006

    A Novel Not To Be Forgotten

    The story itself is interesting and unique. The way it's told is beautiful and believe me, you don't want to stop reading once you start it. The thoughts behind everything is profound. Confused between reality and his own imagination, the protagonist either can't or sub-consciously doesn't want to make connection between his own existence and the real world. There is also an obvious lack of his real emotion in his relationships with his wife and girl friend. Why? Murakami did an excellent job making us think what we usually neglect. How do we identify ourselves? Do we need to? What's reality and what's our imagination?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2005

    Makes you want more!

    This book really sent me on a wild sheep chase! I havent been more caught up in a book since Angels & Demons. Haruki Murakami really makes me think beyond reality with this book. They way he uses the characters and the sitution and events is jaw dropping. I haven't read norwegian wood yet even though i have the book.So I reading up on the reviews. I recommened this book and Dance Dance Dance!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2001

    Outstanding

    Desceptively simple. The novel whispers into the mind's ear. Funny. Fantastical. Marvel at Murakami's style.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2000

    Untamed facscination

    An intriguing and different story of Japanese magic-realism. Just go with the groove and have a fun read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 64 Customer Reviews

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