A Wild Sheep Chase

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
A Wild Sheep Chase
Haruki murakami a wild sheep chase 9780375718946.jpg
First edition (Japanese)
AuthorHaruki Murakami
Original titleHitsuji o meguru bōken (羊をめぐる冒険)
TranslatorAlfred Birnbaum
GenreSurreal novel, magical realism
PublisherKodansha International
Publication date
October 15, 1982
Published in English
December 31, 1989
Media typePrint (Hardcover)
Pages299 (US)
405 (JP)
ISBN0-87011-905-2 (US)
ISBN 4-06-200241-8 (JP)
895.6/35 20
LC ClassPL856.U673 H5713 1989
Preceded byPinball, 1973 
Followed byDance Dance Dance 

A Wild Sheep Chase (羊をめぐる冒険, Hitsuji o meguru bōken) (literally An Adventure Surrounding Sheep[1]) is the third novel by Japanese author Haruki Murakami. First published in Japan in 1982, it was translated into English in 1989. It is an independent sequel to Pinball, 1973, and the third book in the so-called "Trilogy of the Rat". It won the 1982 Noma Literary Newcomer's Prize.

In A Wild Sheep Chase, Murakami blends elements of American and English literature with Japanese contexts, exploring post-WWII Japanese cultural identity. The book is part mystery and part magical realism with a postmodern twist.

A Wild Sheep Chase has been defined as a parody or a renewal of Yukio Mishima's Natsuko no Bōken (夏子の冒険, Natsuko's Adventure).[2][3][4]

Plot summary[edit]

This quasi-detective tale follows an unnamed, chain-smoking narrator and his adventures in Tokyo and Hokkaido in 1978. The story begins when the recently divorced protagonist, an advertisement executive, publishes a photo of a pastoral scene sent to him in a confessional letter by his long-lost friend, 'Rat.' He is contacted by a mysterious man representing 'The Boss,' a central force behind Japan's political and economic elite, who is now slowly dying. The Boss' secretary tells him that a strange sheep with a star-shaped birthmark, pictured in the advertisement, was in some way the secret source of the Boss' power and that he has two months to find that sheep or his career and life will be ruined. The narrator and his girlfriend, who possesses magically seductive and supernaturally perceptive ears, travel to the north of Japan to find the sheep and his vagabond friend. As he discovers that he is chasing an unknowable power that has been exerting its influence for decades, he encounters figures from his own past, unusual characters, and individuals who have encountered the sheep before.


A Wild Sheep Chase received praise from Western literary critics, such as Herbert Mitgang of The New York Times Book Review, who praised the novel in a 1989 review, describing it as "Youthful, slangy, political and allegorical", and concluding, "What makes ''A Wild Sheep Chase'' so appealing is the author's ability to strike common chords between the modern Japanese and American middle classes, especially the younger generation, and to do so in stylish, swinging language. Mr. Murakami's novel is a welcome debut by a talented writer who should be discovered by readers on this end of the Pacific." [5]

Murakami recalls that the editors of Gunzo, a Japanese literary magazine that had previously published his works, "didn't like A Wild Sheep Chase at all" because it was unorthodox for novels of the time. Popular reception, however, was positive and he credits this as his "real starting point" as a novelist.[6]

Prequels and sequel[edit]

This is the third book in Murakami's '"The Rat" Trilogy', preceded by Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973. All three books follow the sometimes surreal adventures of an unnamed first-person narrator and his friend, nicknamed 'The Rat'.

All three novels begin from or refer back to November 25, 1970, the day on which Japanese author, poet, playwright and right-wing activist Yukio Mishima committed seppuku following a failed coup attempt at the headquarters of Japan's Self Defense Forces. Some Japanese critics have speculated that A Wild Sheep Chase is a rewriting or parody of Mishima's The Adventure of Natsuko.

The sequel, Dance, Dance, Dance, continues the adventures of the unnamed protagonist. Locations and characters from A Wild Sheep Chase recur, most notably the Dolphin Hotel, the narrator's unnamed girlfriend, and the mysterious Sheep Man. However, its plot, tone, and the majority of the characters are sufficiently different so that Dance Dance Dance can be seen as separate from the "Trilogy of the Rat."[citation needed]


Book information[edit]

A Wild Sheep Chase (English edition) by Haruki Murakami; translated by Alfred Birnbaum.


  1. ^ Slocombe, Will https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1232&context=clcweb
  2. ^ Sato, Mikio (2006). 村上春樹の隣には三島由紀夫がいつもいる [The neighbor of Haruki Murakami always being Yukio Mishima] (in Japanese). PHP Institute.
  3. ^ Takasawa, Shuji (2007). 吉本隆明 1945-2007 [Takaaki Yoshimoto 1945-2007] (in Japanese). INSCRIPT.
  4. ^ Osawa, Masachi (2008). 不可能性の時代 [The times of Impossible] (in Japanese). Iwanami Shoten, Publishers.
  5. ^ Mitgang, Herbert (October 21, 1989). "Young and Slangy Mix of the U.S. and Japan". nytimes.com. The New York Times Book Review. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  6. ^ Murakami, Haruki (2009). What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. London: Vintage. pp. 32–33. ISBN 978-0-099-52615-5.