Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Norwegian Wood: Introduction
Norwegian Wood: Plot Summary
Norwegian Wood: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Norwegian Wood: Themes
Norwegian Wood: Quotes
Norwegian Wood: Characters
Norwegian Wood: Symbols
Norwegian Wood: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Haruki Murakami
Historical Context of Norwegian Wood
Other Books Related to Norwegian Wood
- Full Title: Norwegian Wood
- When Written: Mid-1980s
- When Published: 1987, with English translations published in 1989 (Alfred Birnbaum) and 2000 (Jay Rubin)
- Literary Period: Contemporary
- Genre: Novel
- Setting: Tokyo, Japan
- Climax: Toru learns that Naoko has committed suicide by hanging herself in the woods—just as she seemed to finally be getting well enough to leave the Ami Hostel and join him in Tokyo.
- Antagonist: Grief, despair, suicide
- Point of View: First Person
Extra Credit for Norwegian Wood
Titles in Translation. While the title of the Beatles song “Norwegian Wood” cheekily refers to a kind of pinewood paneling commonly used in 1960s décor, the title of Murakami’s novel in the original Japanese uses the Japanese word for “forest”—mori— rather than the word for hard wood or wood paneling. The word mori doesn’t just have significance in Japanese, however—mori is also the present infinitive conjugation of the Latin verb morior, which means “to die.” The novel’s title, then, winks not only at popular culture but also at themes of coming of age as well as grief and suicide, suggesting that adolescence—and all its attendant despairs and difficulties—is a dense and deadly “wood” one must navigate.