“Here's what I think, Mr. Wind-Up Bird," said May Kasahara. "Everybody's born with some different thing at the core of their existence. And that thing, whatever it is, becomes like a heat source that runs each person from the inside. I have one too, of course. Like everybody else. But sometimes it gets out of hand. It swells or shrinks inside me, and it shakes me up. What I'd really like to do is find a way to communicate that feeling to another person. But I can't seem to do it. They just don't get it. Of course, the problem could be that I'm not explaining it very well, but I think it's because they're not listening very well. They pretend to be listening, but they're not, really. So I get worked up sometimes, and I do some crazy things." ― Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up BirdChronicle
If After Dark was a Vermeer miniature and Kafka on The Shore was a Dali surrealist landscape, then The Wind-up Bird Chronicle would be Picasso's Guernica. They do have some things in common. Both are large epic works. Both have tragic historic events as the center of the work; The bombing of Guernica in Spain for Picasso and The invasion of Manchuria by the Japanese, and its aftermath, for Murakami. And finally, both explore the nature of evil as a major theme. Murakami is also exploring the role of fate and the delicate and unpredictable interaction that people, even total strangers, play in our life. At least that is my interpretation. This epic novel by Murakami is opened to many interpretations as it is an odd and fantastical mixture of strange characters and open-ended events that are not necessarily tied together. In fact, the novel may best be read for the marvelous language and the flowing imagery rather than any strict interpretation. The story starts with a simple idea of a man who is looking for his cat, his wife, and the meaning to his own not-so-enviable existence. yet quickly evolves into a crowd of odd characters who have stories of their own to tell. These tales seem random but are linked together, if oh so precariously. It's best to "go with the flow" and enjoy the ride. But for me, it all made sense at the end in a very satisfying way.However, as much as I loved it, I didn't become immersed with the characters as much as I did in Kafka by The Shore. I felt a bit of an outside observer, as in "Kafka" I really felt touched by the protagonists. So "Kafka" still remains my favorite Murakami novel. However The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is certainly a literary masterpiece in any definition of the term.