The Pequod Review:
Haruki Murakami’s first proper novel, A Wild Sheep Chase, is in many ways his deepest and most elaborate book. The novel is Part III of Murakami’s Trilogy of the Rat (following the earlier novellas Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973). It picks up five years after Pinball, and finds the unnamed narrator in transition, recently divorced and stuck in an unfulfilling job. His longtime friend The Rat contacts him by letter and cryptically sends him a picture of a sheep farm, which soon launches them on a long chase. That is only the beginning of this extraordinary novel, as the plot shifts in dazzling and magical directions, involving a sheep with a star-shaped tattoo, a girl with ears so beautiful “they transcended all concepts within the boundaries of my awareness,” a dying business mogul, a dwarf-like figure in a sheep outfit, and a teenage obsession with whale penises. As with all of Murakami’s books, the absurd plot developments work because of the grounded nature of his narrator — nonchalant and bemused, and as equally baffled as the reader — and Murakami's simple prose. Like great jazz music, these foundational structures give Murakami enormous latitude with the plot, which he uses to great effect.