A great Beatles
tune, Norwegian Wood
is also a book
author Murakami Haruki
(frequently known as Haruki Murakami
). It was published in 1987, to great acclaim. It has sold more than 2 million copies since its publication.
(The 4 million-copy figure often cited is the result of a misunderstanding of publication strategy in Japan. Japanese readers often read on trains, and thus dislike buying large, unwieldy tomes. Japanese publishers have addressed this issue by publishing lengthy books in multiple parts. Norwegian Wood was published as two books, one with a red cover, one with a green cover. Four million of these books were sold, but as it is unlikely many people bought only one of the two, and unlikelier still that people bought multiple copies of only one of the two, 2 million is probably an accurate figure.)
Norwegian Wood is essentially one long flashback by thirty-seven year-old Toru Watanabe, who is swept into nostalgia when he hears a Muzak arrangement of the song Norwegian Wood played over airplane speakers as the plane lands at Hamburg airport. The story deals with Watanabe's high school and college days, especially his love of Naoko, an emotionally disturbed young woman.
Norwegian Wood was first translated into English by Alfred Birnbaum for use in the Kodansha English Library, a series of books intended for use by Japanese students of English. More recently, Jay Rubin has translated the book again, with Murakami's help.