TITLE: A Wild Sheep Chase
AUTHOR: Haruki Murakami
PUBLISHER: Kodansha International/Vintage International
Quote: “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.”
Overview: It's 1978 and we're following an unnamed narrator around Tokyo and Hokkaido. He's divorced, works in advertising and is dating a girl with outstanding ears. After publishing a photo of a mountainous region filled with sheep (a photo supplied to him by his friend, The Rat), the narrator is contacted by an enigmatic man representing The Boss, a powerful yet somewhat unknown right wing elite. The Boss is on his way out of this world, but this secretive man is determined to do all he can to stop that. One of the sheep in the picture, the man tells the narrator, was the Boss' secret source of power all these years and is the reason for all of The Boss' success. He gives the reluctant narrator two months to find the sheep or his life will be all but over. With his girlfriend of ear-fame, the narrator travels to the cold northern parts of Japan in search of the sheep and The Rat. What he finds though is much more, and it is as much a spiritual journey as a physical journey.
Analysis: A Wild Sheep Chase is a wild ride on the back of a blasé narrator who tends to let the tide of others push him to his destiny. He's not such a good or bad guy, but is easily likable. It's a mystery and a detective novel without any of the normal or natural components of mystery and detective novels. The book is a journey much like the actual journey the narrator takes, and at the risk of sounding trite, the point of the journey is the journey in and of itself. If Raymond Chandler, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jack Kerouac had written a book together, something very similar to A Wild Sheep Chase would have been the output. It's a book where nothing and everything happens. Cigarettes are smoked, beers are drank, love is made, dead people are conversed with, sheep contain powers beyond this world...pick it up and see, I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Conclusion: A friend of mine said that this was one of Murakami's friendliest books, and I couldn't agree more, so definitely give it a read.