“A Wild Sheep Chase” is the last novel from Haruki Murakami I’ve read. It is also the last one I had to read to finish reading all his novels in English, the next challenge is to read all of them one more time but in Japanese. Some of the conversations in this novel reminded me The Castle (Franz Kafka), that happens to be one Haruki Murakami’s favorite novels and he confeses he is greatly influenced by Kafka.
“A Wild Sheep Chase” is about sheep. 300 pages about sheep? Yes it is about sheep, but not really about sheep. And yes! it is interesting to read, is even more than that, I think it is magic to read. It is amazing how a storyline that looks normal at the beginning starts to warp, and change and become surrealistic but still feeling “normal”. This mastery changing from normal to surrealistic without feeling anything artificial is a typical Murakami pattern found in many of his novels. It is also typical that the protagonist has no name, in fact in this novel none of the characters has a name, they all have weird nicknames. This no-name thing is not only typical in Murakami’s novels, it is pretty common in Japanese literature, manga and anime, do you have any idea why?
Here I quote some interesting bits and pieces from “A Wild Sheep Chase“:
“This way by no means a criticism of you. Or to put it more simply, it is because the world itself is so mediocre that you are mediocre as such. Do you not agree?”
“Nice kitty-kitty,” said the chauffeur, hand not outstretched. “What’s his name?”
“He doesn’t have a name.”
“So what do you call the fella?”
“I don’t call it, ” I said. “It’s just there”
“But he’s not a lump just sitting there. He moves about by his own will, no? Seems mighty strange that something that moves by its own will doesn’t’ have a name.”
“Herring swim around of theri own will, but nobody gives them names.”
“Well, first of all, there’s no emotional bond between herring and people, and besides, they wouldn’t know their name if they heard it.”
“Don’t mind in the least. But what name?”
“How about ‘Kipper’? I mean you were treating him him like a herring after all.”
“Not bad,” I said.
“You see?” said the chauffeur.
“What do you think?” I asked my girlfriend.
“Not bad,” she said. “It’s like being witness to the creation of heaven and earth.”
“Let there be Kipper”. I said.
“Remember the name of your cat?”
“Kipper,” I reply.
“No, it’s not Kipper,” the chauffeur says. “The name’s already changed. Names change all the time. I bet you can’t even remember your own name”
Sheep picture taken by my friend Albert who is living now in Scotland.