The two Haruki Murakami novels collected in this edition – well, novellas, really – have previously only been available to English readers in obscure translations from the 80s, so it’s great to have them readily available for the first time, and newly translated by Ted Goosen. And though Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball lack that truly special and resonant something that makes the majority of Murakami’s work so profound, there’s still something artful and majestic about the Japanese author’s earliest work.
These two novels are the opening installments of a trilogy, which concludes with A Wild Sheep Chase (widely available in English, and has been for a long time). In Hear the Wind Sing, the unnamed narrator, a student in his early 20s, tells the story of his relationship with a girl he found unconscious in a bar. The narrator reflects on the nature of writing, pop music, death, girlfriends, and the transience of all things – the latter of which is a common theme in the author’s work. Pinball takes place years later, and sees the narrator recalling his obsession with pinball, and his determination to find the machine he used to play. Both books feature a character referred to only as the ‘Rat,’ who frequented the same pub as the narrator in their hometown.
Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball are fleeting, whimsical affairs, utilising Murakami’s lucid prose to wonderful effect. I tore through the collection over the course of a couple nights’ reading, and enjoyed every minute, was left feeling desperate for Murakami’s next novel; something to match the breadth and sheer audacity of IQ84, or the emotional heft of Colourless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimage.