NOVELOHOLIC

NORWEGIAN WOOD                                 

BY HARUKI MURAKAMI

[ORIGINAL SUMMARY]

Norwegian Wood is the story of Toru Watanabe, a young man who is damaged by the suicide of his high school friend, Kizuki. Toru falls in love with Kizuki’s tortured girlfriend, Naoko, who is isolated in her own mind. When she goes into a mental hospital, he promises to wait for her. Meanwhile, though, he falls in love with Midori, an open and uninhibited girl who represents life. Toru is filled with guilt when Naoko kills herself, but ultimately he calls out to Midori.

The novel begins when Toru is thirty-seven, remembering the events that happened to him twenty years ago. In high school, Toru, his best friend Kizuki, and Kizuki’s girlfriend Naoko are inseparable. They are all bound together by Kizuki. However, Kizuki’s suicide throws Naoko and Toru into depression. Both choose to attend colleges in Tokyo, where they can get away from their pasts.

Toru runs into Naoko one day while he is in college, and the two start to see each other every Sunday. They go on long walks through Tokyo. Though Naoko has trouble talking and expressing herself , they spend every Sunday together. On Naoko’s birthday, Toru brings her a cake, and they spend the evening drinking wine and listening to music. Naoko talks continuously, but she seems to be avoiding certain subjects. Then she breaks down in tears. Toru makes love to her, but the next day she disappears. Toru writes to her and longs for her but hears nothing for a long while.

 When Naoko finally writes to Toru, he learns she’s had a mental breakdown and is in a sanatorium. While he waits for her, Toru goes to classes and works, remaining isolated until he meets Midori, a girl who appears and then disappears for days or weeks. He goes to visit her at her family’s bookstore, and they share a kiss although each is attached to another.

Toru goes to visit Naoko at the sanatorium, and he shares a day with her walking in a meadow. It’s the closest he ever is to Naoko, and she tells him about her sister, who also killed herself when Naoko was young. Naoko asks Toru to always remember her, and Toru asks her to live with him when she gets out of the sanatorium.

After the visit, though, Toru falls in love with Midori. Midori has been through the deaths of both of her parents from brain cancer, and she is exhausted with caring for others. She wants someone who will care for her. Toru does not know what to do when he realizes he is in love with Midori. He asks Midori to wait while he sorts things out with Naoko. However, Naoko takes a turn for the worse. She kills herself, and Toru is flung into a pit of grief, despair, and guilt. Toru travels around Japan, alone with his sorrow. When he finally begins to emerge, he calls Midori from a clouded pit of depression.

A TWIST IN THE TALE

[CHANGED ENDING]

Norwegian Wood is the story of Toru Watanabe, a young man who is damaged by the suicide of his high school friend, Kizuki. Toru falls in love with Kizuki’s tortured girlfriend, Naoko, who is isolated in her own mind. When she goes into a mental hospital, he promises to wait for her. Meanwhile, though, he falls in love with Midori, an open and uninhibited girl who represents life. Toru is filled with guilt when Naoko kills herself, but ultimately he calls out to Midori.

The novel begins when Toru is thirty-seven, remembering the events that happened to him twenty years ago. In high school, Toru, his best friend Kizuki, and Kizuki’s girlfriend Naoko are inseparable. They are all bound together by Kizuki. However, Kizuki’s suicide throws Naoko and Toru into depression. Both choose to attend colleges in Tokyo, where they can get away from their pasts.

Toru runs into Naoko one day while he is in college, and the two start to see each other every Sunday. They go on long walks through Tokyo. Though Naoko has trouble talking and expressing herself, they spend every Sunday together. On Naoko’s birthday, Toru brings her a cake, and they spend the evening drinking wine and listening to music. Naoko talks continuously, but she seems to be avoiding certain subjects. Then she breaks down in tears. Toru makes love to her, but the next day she disappears. Toru writes to her and longs for her but hears nothing for a long while.

When Naoko finally writes to Toru, he learns she’s had a mental breakdown and is in a sanatorium. While he waits for her, Toru goes to classes and works, remaining isolated until he meets Midori, a girl who appears and then disappears for days or weeks. He goes to visit her at her family’s bookstore, and they share a kiss, although each is attached to another.

Toru goes to visit Naoko at the sanatorium, and he shares a day with her walking in a meadow. It’s the closest he ever is to Naoko, and she tells him about her sister, who also killed herself when Naoko was young. Naoko asks Toru always to remember her, and Toru asks her to live with him when she gets out of the sanatorium.

After the visit, though, Toru falls in love with Midori. Midori has been through the deaths of both of her parents from brain cancer, and she is exhausted with caring for others. She wants someone who will care for her. Toru does not know what to do when he realizes he is in love with Midori. He asks Midori to wait while he sorts things out with Naoko.

Midori being who she is, was fed up with being treated like an option and liability by everyone, decides to leave Toru and move to Kyoto to start a new life, away from her parents’ book store, her house, Toru, everyone. Meanwhile, after a fortnight since Toru’s visit to the sanatorium, Naoko finally decides to leave the place, once and for all, with the acceptance of the past events which have shaped her into who she is now, including all the trauma. Five days before leaving, she wrote a letter to Toru talking about her departure and how she wanted to meet him.

“I’m so glad you are back. How are you feeling?” asked Toru as he hoped to find his answer of whether he should rekindle things with her.

“I’m much better. Time had its healing effect at last. I also have Reiko to thank for it. But there is something I’d like to tell you Toru.”

“Go on.”

“Over the past few months, I’ve been through a lot. I’ve asked myself questions I shouldn’t have, thought more deeper than ever, and finally have a bit of an idea of how to move forward, and for that, I need to forget all this. You, Kizuki, my sister, the sanitarium and everything that I’ve been through to move on. “

“You mean having a clean slate?” asked an astonished Toru.

“Yeah, something like that,” said Naoko

“So, is this our last meeting?”

“For a few years, perhaps”

Both sat quietly for a while. Those 3 minutes of uncomfortable silence felt like three years. Finally, to divert the topic, Toru started talking about his college and his future plans. They wished each other luck and promised to meet in a few years.

Darkness ensued Toru’s mind as he was walking back home from the train station. His Naoko, Kizuki’s Naoko was leaving. Perhaps his wait for her wasn’t worth it. Or maybe it was. Who knows. Just before opening the door to his house, he saw a letter in the mailbox. It read FROM: MIDORI KOBAYASHI. He was caught off guard. He went to his kitchen to get a knife and plate to eat the melon which he had bought on the way back and then opened the letter and read what Midori wrote of: her leaving.

He was shattered. First Kizuki then Naoko and now Midori too. Each of his confidants had left him. Maybe the problem was with him. Just as he seems to recover from one person’s departure, another follows. He couldn’t bear that anymore. The thought of suicide also passed by his mind but for what good? He didn’t want anyone to suffer because of his death the way he did because of others’.He decided to challenge his destiny by not giving up. That narrow beam of hope hidden beneath his shattered peace struck hard, and he lived, hoping that things would get better. EVENTUALLY.

Alternate ending by – Radhika Ahuja

Black Hole by Charles Burns – Review in Brief

Since it’s a Halloween week, let’s read something uncanny and spooky which can shiver your spine down. Yes, I am talking about the graphic novel, Black Hole by Charles Burns. This graphic novel is all about teenagers and how their lives changed because of a disease that can be transmitted sexually and affects only the teenager. Charles Burns uses his cartoon to create a horrific and uncomfortable atmosphere around his readers. This book is set in the Suburb Seattle of mid-1970s. The author introduces us to the protagonist, who is Keith Pearson and Chris Rhodes.

It is difficult to summarize the entire novel in a small article because the black and white grotesque graphic shows the development and growth of character and the story. In the initial chapters, we see the teenagers discussing the disease that is spreading rapidly among the teenagers from this discussion we get to know the name of the disease “The Bug”.

Once the it infects the person the mutation begins. It results in grotesque deformities like the formation of a tail or an extra mouth around the neck. These deformities look queer and grody because of which ordinary people feel disgusted at the sight of an infected person.

We also get a glimpse of discrimination faced by these infected teenagers; when Dave goes to Kentucky Fried Chicken and other customer abuses him verbally. The situation leads to another confrontation where Dave spits on the verbally abusive customer. It shows him how easy it was to catch ” The Bug”. These infected people were excommunicated from the society. They were treated as an outcast. These infected people live up in an isolated forest away from the city.


The viewpoint of the story keeps changing from Keith to Chris, where they discuss the deathly consequences of the disease. The novel is written in the first-person narration because of which a reader can put himself/ herself in the narrator’s shoes. And it feels what’s going on in their lives. From this writing style, we get to know the doomed life of both the protagonist.
As a reader, I will suggest all my young and teenagers friends read this novel. As this book is touching upon a sensitive topic that is “why we need sex education at the school level”. If the character in the story had little information and knowledge about the disease how it spread and the precautions required, they would not have been caught in the vicious circle of the disease.

This novel tries to educate us through entertainment. It is like an eye-opening to teenagers which shows them the harmful effects of casual sex and also teaches them about right and genuine love!


If anyone wants to start reading and have confusion about what to pick; then this book serves your purpose. The language and storyline are so easy to understand, unlike those classic novels. This novel is not at all time consuming and can be completed in just one day. This story is a complete package of three ” Es” that we all look for in a whisper; it’s Engaging, Educating and Entertaining. So stop scrolling, brew a cup of coffee and dive into the world of eerie and bizarre graphics!

If you have read the book Black Hole by Charles Burns. Do write a small review in comments, and if you haven’t read it yet, here it is – Black Hole by Charles Burns

By Kumkum Jairam.

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