The Pequod Review:
Throughout his body of work, Haruki Murakami has created a highly distinctive style of fiction: a sort of East-meets-West form of magical realism, with dream-like settings, elusive characters, and bizarre events. His books are easily accessible to Western readers due in large part to his simple prose and his frequent references to American music and culture, two features that have earned him the scorn (perhaps combined with jealousy) of traditional Japanese novelists. But like great fables, his best books have unexpected depth and touch on big themes of love, solitude, identity, and human consciousness.
Wind/Pinball collects Murakami’s first two novellas, both of which are well-written in his characteristic voice. The plots are weak, but the novellas feature two of his more memorable characters — the unnamed narrator (who is thoughtful and bemused, but aimless and indolent) and his good friend The Rat — during their time as students in the early 1970s. One of the highlights of the 2016 Vintage edition is Murakami’s new introduction (online here), which describes how his literary voice emerged through an experiment in writing. He initially began writing the first novella in Japanese but was unsatisfied with the result; he then tried writing the same thing again in his limited English. When he translated that broken English back into Japanese, it resulted in his unique linguistic style which he has maintained throughout his career.