About the Book

Book Protagonist: The Unnamed Narrator
Publication Date: 1982
Genre: Fantasy, Magical Realism


A Wild Sheep Chase

By Haruki Murakami

‘A Wild Sheep Chase’ is regarded as one of Haruki Murakami’s best novels. It mixes fantasy, magical realism, and detective fiction in a compelling way. 

The novel is filled with wonderful examples of Murakami’s often complex style. His prose is at times, lyrical and, at others, very straightforward. This makes for a unique combination loved by readers all over the world


Whether you take the doughnut hole as a blank space or as an entity unto itself is a purely metaphysical question and does not affect the taste of the doughnut one bit.

This statement is a classic example of Murakami’s blending of the mundane with the philosophical. On one level, it’s a simple observation about a doughnut and its hole. But on another level, it’s a profound meditation on the nature of existence.

The doughnut hole can be seen both as a lack of something (a space where there is no doughnut) and a thing in itself (a shape defined by the doughnut surrounding it).

Generally, people who are good at writing letters have no need to write letters. They’ve got plenty of life to lead inside their own context.

This quote is suggesting that those who are skilled at writing letters, presumably because they are articulate and expressive, don’t actually need to write letters. This is because they are fully engaged in their own lives and contexts.

Or, more simply, those who have the skill to express themselves well in letters may have attained this ability precisely because they are so engaged with their immediate surroundings. 

They don’t need to reach out via letters because they are fulfilled in their direct interactions and relationships.

Personality and Emotions

I guess I felt attached to my weakness. My pain and suffering too. Summer light, the smell of a breeze, the sound of cicadas – if I like these things, why should I apologize?

This passage emphasizes a theme found throughout much of Murakami’s work: the embracing of imperfection, suffering, and the simple pleasures of life. 

The speaker’s attachment to weakness and pain may seem paradoxical, but reflects an acceptance of the full spectrum of human experience. It may suggest that embracing one’s flaws and pains is essential for personal growth or understanding.

I don’t know, there’s something about you. Say there’s an hourglass: the sand’s about to run out. Someone like you can always be counted on to turn the thing over.

In this quote, Murakami suggests that the hourglass is a common symbol for time, with the sand running out representing a critical or finite moment. It’s a visualization of an impending end or deadline. The character referenced in this quote is someone who takes action and doesn’t accept that the sand is almost gone. 

I was feeling lonely without her, but the fact that I could feel lonely at all was a consolation. Loneliness wasn’t such a bad feeling. It was like the stillness of the pin oak after the little birds had flown off.

In this quote from the novel, the narrator describes a nuanced view of loneliness. While it’s a feeling often associated with sadness or lack, here, it’s seen as a sign of emotional capacity. The ability to feel lonely, and thus to feel, becomes a source of comfort.

Comparing loneliness to the stillness of a pin oak tree after the birds have flown off is a delicate image that’s characteristic of the writer’s style. 

Whenever I meet people for the first time, I get them to talk for ten minutes. Then I size them up from the exact opposite perspective of all they’ve told me. Do you think that’s crazy?

“No,” I said, shaking my head, “I’d guess your method works quite well.”

This is a telling quote that describes how people misrepresent themselves. The quote suggests you’re better off discarding what someone tells you about yourself and interpreting the opposite. 

The method described in this quote might reveal something deeper about the speaker’s understanding of human nature. By looking at the opposite of what’s said, they might attempt to uncover subconscious or concealed aspects of the person they’re meeting. 


I was twenty-one at the time, about to turn twenty-two. No prospect of graduating soon, and yet no reason to quit school. Caught in the most curiously depressing circumstances. For months I’d been stuck, unable to take one step in any new direction.  […]  The sunlight, the smell of the grass, the faintest patter of rain, everything got on my nerves.

This quote conveys a profound sense of stagnation, frustration, and existential uncertainty. The reference to being twenty-one and in school without any prospect of graduating soon sets the stage. The lack of direction and uncertainty about education adds to the sense of aimlessness. 

It’s as though life is happening elsewhere, and the narrator is an observer rather than a participant.


Is ‘A Wild Sheep Chase’ a good book? 

Whether or not you like this novel comes down to your opinion of Murakami’s writing style. A Wild Sheep Chase is often praised for its imaginative storytelling and its intricate plot.

What kind of book is ‘A Wild Sheep Chase?’

The story of ‘A Wild Sheep Chase’ is typically classified as a surreal or magical realism novel. It also has elements of the detective genre. 

What is the style of ‘A Wild Sheep Chase?’ 

Haruki Murakami’s style in ‘A Wild Sheep Chase’ is known for its blend of the mundane with the surreal. He uses straightforward, conversational language interspersed with complex and often symbolic imagery.

Is ‘A Wild Sheep Chase’ hard to read? 

The difficulty of ‘A Wild Sheep Chase’ can depend on the reader’s familiarity with Murakami’s style and the novel’s blend of realism and fantasy. Some readers find the book accessible, while others might find its abstract themes and surreal elements challenging.

Emma Baldwin
About Emma Baldwin
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues on Book Analysis.
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