Read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Online

Authors: Haruki Murakami

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Acclaim for

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
, Murakami spreads his brilliant, fantastical wings and soars.”

—Philadelphia Inquirer

“Seductive.… A labyrinth designed by a master, at once familiar and irresistibly strange.”

—San Francisco Chronicle

“An epic … as sculpted and implacable as a bird by Brancusi.”

New York Magazine

“Mesmerizing, original … fascinating, daring, mysterious and profoundly rewarding.”

Baltimore Sun

“A beguiling sense of mystery suffuses
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
and draws us irresistibly and ever deeper into the phantasmagoria of pain and memory.… Compelling [and] convincing.”

—Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Digs relentlessly into the buried secrets of Japan’s past … brilliantly translated into the latest vernacular.”

—Pico Iyer,

“A bold and generous book.… No matter how fantastical the events it describes may be, the straight-ahead storytelling never loses its propulsive force.”

—The New York Times Book Review


—Los Angeles Times

“A vision no American novelist could have invented.… [Murakami] aims to provoke not just a frisson of unsettlement, but a deeper, more consequential unease.”


“A major work.… On a canvas stretched from Manchuria to Malta, and with sound effects from strange birdcalls to sleigh bells in cyberspace, this is a fully mature, engrossing tale of individual and national destinies entwined. It will be hard to surpass.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“A surreal, sprawling drama … that marks Murakami’s most ambitious work to date.”

Publishers Weekly

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
soars, thanks to Murakami’s virtuosic control … and his complex, disturbing view of human nature.”

Time Out

“Everything in [
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
] is intricately connected to everything else.… [It] resonates in our time, across history, within individuals.”

—Boston Globe


Copyright © 1997 by Haruki Murakami

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Originally published in Japan in three separate volumes as
Nejimaki-dori kuronikuru
by Shinchosa Ltd., Tokyo, in 1994 and 1995. Copyright © 1994, 1995 by Shinchosa Ltd. This translation originally published in hardcover in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, in 1997.

Two chapters of this work were originally published in
The New Yorker
as “The Zoo Attack” (July 31, 1995) and “Another Way to Die” (January 20, 1997).

Alfred Birnbaum coined the term “wind-up bird” in his translation of “The Wind-Up Bird and Tuesday’s Women” included in Murakami’s collection
The Elephant Vanishes

The Library of Congress has cataloged the Knopf edition as follows:

Murakami, Haruki, [date]

[Nejimaki-dori kuronikuru. English]
The wind-up bird chronicle : a novel / by Haruki Murakami ;
translated and adapted from the Japanese by Jay Rubin with the participation
of the author.
p. cm.
eISBN: 978-0-307-76270-2
I. Rubin, Jay, [date]. II. Title.
PL856.U673N4513 1997
895.6′35—dc21        97-2813

Random House Web address:


Book One: The Thieving Magpie
June and July 1984

Six Fingers and Four Breasts

When the phone rang I was in the kitchen, boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along with an FM broadcast of the overture to Rossini’s
The Thieving Magpie
, which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta.

I wanted to ignore the phone, not only because the spaghetti was nearly done, but because Claudio Abbado was bringing the London Symphony to its musical climax. Finally, though, I had to give in. It could have been somebody with news of a job opening. I lowered the flame, went to the living room, and picked up the receiver.

“Ten minutes, please,” said a woman on the other end.

I’m good at recognizing people’s voices, but this was not one I knew.

“Excuse me? To whom did you wish to speak?”

, of course. Ten minutes, please. That’s all we need to understand each other.” Her voice was low and soft but otherwise nondescript.

“Understand each other?”

“Each other’s feelings.”

I leaned over and peeked through the kitchen door. The spaghetti pot was steaming nicely, and Claudio Abbado was still conducting
The Thieving Magpie

“Sorry, but you caught me in the middle of making spaghetti. Can I ask you to call back later?”

“Spaghetti!? What are you doing cooking spaghetti at ten-thirty in the morning?”

“That’s none of your business,” I said. “I decide what I eat and when I eat it.”

“True enough. I’ll call back,” she said, her voice now flat and expressionless. A little change in mood can do amazing things to the tone of a person’s voice.

“Hold on a minute,” I said before she could hang up. “If this is some new sales gimmick, you can forget it. I’m out of work. I’m not in the market for anything.”

“Don’t worry. I know.”

“You know? You know what?”

“That you’re out of work. I know about that. So go cook your precious spaghetti.”

“Who the hell—”

She cut the connection.

With no outlet for my feelings, I stared at the phone in my hand until I remembered the spaghetti. Back in the kitchen, I turned off the gas and poured the contents of the pot into a colander. Thanks to the phone call, the spaghetti was a little softer than
al dente
, but it had not been dealt a mortal blow. I started eating—and thinking.

Understand each other? Understand each other’s feelings in ten minutes? What was she talking about? Maybe it was just a prank call. Or some new sales pitch. In any case, it had nothing to do with me.

After lunch, I went back to my library novel on the living room sofa, glancing every now and then at the telephone. What were we supposed to understand about each other in ten minutes? What
two people understand about each other in ten minutes? Come to think of it, she seemed awfully sure about those ten minutes: it was the first thing out of her mouth. As if nine minutes would be too short or eleven minutes too long. Like cooking spaghetti
al dente

I couldn’t read anymore. I decided to iron shirts instead. Which is what I always do when I’m upset. It’s an old habit. I divide the job into twelve precise stages, beginning with the collar (outer surface) and ending with the left-hand cuff. The order is always the same, and I count off each stage to myself. Otherwise, it won’t come out right.

I ironed three shirts, checking them over for wrinkles and putting them on hangers. Once I had switched off the iron and put it away with the ironing board in the hall closet, my mind felt a good deal clearer.

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