I know Murakami’s Norwegian Wood became hugely popular in Japan, but I much prefer the other novels I’ve read by him so far. Norwegian Wood is just a “normal novel”, i.e. it doesn’t have any of the magical realism-type elements you find in 1Q84 or Kafka by the Shore – and it’s really the magical realism that attracted me to Murakami’s writing, more than anything else, when I started reading his books.
That said, Norwegian Wood has a unique voice, which is quite an achievement since it’s not written in the first person – like, say, Catcher in the Rye – but somehow Murakami manages to create a very particular view of the world through the often chatty, lighthearted banter mixed with the harsh realities of life, loss in particular. If there’s one thing I really like about this novel, it’s the voice.