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A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel (Contemporary Fiction, Plume)

228 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0452265165
ISBN-10: 0452265169
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Mass Market Paperback, September 1, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A Japanese yuppie plunges into chaos after he discovers a snapshot depicting a unique crossbreed of sheep. In "a comic combination of disparate styles: a mock-hardboiled mystery, a metaphysical speculation and an ironic first-person account of an impossible quest . . . Murakami emerges as a wholly original talent," PW wrote.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This novel, the American debut of a popular contemporary Japanese writer, will have a familiar ring to Western ears. The narrative moves adroitly through mystery, fable, pensive realism, and modernist absurdity to tell the tale--at least on the surface--of a Japanese man caught up in a puzzling quest for a somewhat mystical sheep. The spare style echoes Raymond Carver, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler, with matter-of-fact absurdities reminiscent of John Irving and, in less inspired moments, Tom Robbins. While the climax of the story is somewhat unrewarding, many readers will enjoy being pulled along by the playful and engaging style and fluid structure. Interesting as an example of current Japanese writing and as an unusually hip and irreverent look at contemporary Japanese society, this would be a nice addition to larger fiction collections.
- Mark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll., N.Y.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Contemporary Fiction, Plume
  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (November 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452265169
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452265165
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (228 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #923,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 112 people found the following review helpful By Christian Hunter on August 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
...and I use the term freak in the most reverent of ways. I also use it to describe the author; because while the main character is a freak in his own right, he's one of an entirely different caliber.

A Wild Sheep Chase takes us to Tokyo Japan 'round 1980 and dumps us into the sharp but entirely unexercised, and increasingly apathetic mind of our 30 year old (male) main character. Funny, I just checked the book because I couldn't remember his name. I couldn't find it. I may be wrong, but I don't know if the author gives him one.


Newly divorced, incessantly smoking, and always musing in very interesting ways about largely uninteresting things, I found myself pulled into this novel immediately. "We" soon find ourselves embroiled in an epic and supernatural mystery with only a half-tank of gas. When tasked by an uber-powerful businessman to find a certain certain one-of-a-kind sheep or face financial ruin (if not death), our adventurer shruggingly agrees, and half-heartedly pursues.

The slurring pace of this book, filled with philosophical musings, "David Lynch like" weirdos, and a spattering of phenomenon, was a rare treat for me.

Murakami is a wonderfully gifted creative writer. His prose (even though translated) is at once elegantly crafted and playful. I recommend this book highly.

Christian Hunter

Santa Barbara, California
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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 10, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The genius of Murakami's "Wild Sheep Chase" (like the genius of his other works) is the total believability of his characters and plot. Everyone who reads this work is immediately engrossed and sucked in, and only realizes how truly bizarre the whole thing is when they try to tell someone else about the book.
The narrator of "Sheep Chase" begins as something of an Everyman. His mate leaves him, his job pays him well but isn't very satisfying, he is intelligent but little in his life seems to stimulate him to thought. You wouldn't say he is going through life with blinders on, but nor is his life totally examined, either. Life is, more or less, something that is just happening to him. You could probably think of a dozen people you know who would easily fit his character.
Still, this is a Murakami novel, after all, and pretty soon he is, in the words of Tolkein, simply swept away, a stranger in a strange land with no idea of how he got there. A perfectly ordinary photo that he uses in a brochure catches the attention of a powerful political figure, "The Boss", who has been inexplicably lying on the verge of death for some years, hanging on as if by some supernatural power. The photo, it's discovered, has a special sheep in it. A type of sheep who's breed does not exist. A minion of The Boss makes him an offer he cannot refuse: find that sheep...
He meets up with a young woman who, among other things, is a call girl for an exclusive members-only club, and does ear modeling on the side. Together, they set off to find this elusive sheep-that-doesn't-exist, all the while trailing the narrator's old friend, The Rat, who seems to always be one step ahead of them.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Mark Nadja on April 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
Murakami is an acquired taste, but fortunately he's very easily acquired. His novels are typically a mixed bag of comic absurdity, pathos, suspense, and philosophical speculation but written in a straight-ahead, colloquial style. *A Wild Sheep Chase* is no exception. Here a struggling adman ends up recruited by a mysterious client in black to find a sheep that has appeared in an insurance company advertisement our hero's firm has designed. The sheep in this ad is special...it takes over people's consciousness.

That's the least of what you need to know to understand what kind of novel *A Wild Sheep Chase* is. And yet for all its imaginative "wildness," the novel has a traditional, hardboiled-style first-person narrative that easily draws you into the story. In fact, I'd say that three-quarters of the pleasure of this novel comes from spending time with the likeable, hard-luck narrator. Witty but not a wisecracker, laid-back but no Joe Cool, fatalistic but not cynical, he's a guy who is thoroughly convinced of his mediocrity and okay with it. He's got the kind of applied equanimity to life's vicissitudes that you wish you had, taking things as they come, taking things as they go. He knows life is heading for loss and sadness, but he's not whining about it. If he's not the kind of guy you could ever be, than he's the kind of guy you wish you had for a friend--and that makes spending 350+ pages in his company a pleasurable experience. And that's a good thing because if I had one criticism about *A Wild Sheep Chase* it's that it's about 70 pages too long. In the last third of the novel, there's a lot of description of the narrator sitting around waiting for the climax to occur when it could have occurred pages and pages beforehand.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Fandar Ido on September 21, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I enjoy Japanese authors, Kawabata, Dazai, Mishima. All very different in style, but all presenting serious work. So when I randomly picked this book up after seeing it was by a Japanese author, I really had no idea what I was getting into.
I more or less read it in one sitting because it's quirkiness grabbed me. A lot of people compare Haruki Murakami to Kurt Vonnegut. But I have to tell you, after reading nearly all of Vonnegut's work (Excluding Happy Birthday Wanda June, and the two "new" books, Bagombo Snuff Box and God Bless You Dr Kavorkin), Vonnegut is a thousand times more lucid.
That isn't to say I didn't like A Wild Sheep Chase, it was bizzare, humorous, and at times touching (when the protagonist visits the beach he used to hang out at, and finds that it has been filled in and there now sits pavement really affected me.)And in many ways the non clarity could be considered a strength. When you have a story as absurd as this one, trying to explain the universe in which it is operating can cause it to just fall apart.
But I was also left with a feeling of, "What the hell is this guy trying to say?" Then agian, does he really *have* to say anything?
Interesting characters and extremly fun. I enjoyed it and would recommend A Wild Sheep Chase.
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