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Hear the Wind Sing (風の歌を聴け) is a 1979 novel by Haruki Murakami. It is his first novel, as well as the first entry in his Trilogy of the Rat. It follows an unnamed protagonist as he returns to his hometown during his summer break, and the realization that his life is changing as he gets older. This is first entry in his "Trilogy of the Rat"; the novel is followed by Pinball, 1973, A Wild Sheep Chase, and (via Trilogy Creep) Dance Dance Dance.


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The novel contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Age-Appropriate Angst: For pretty much everyone. The narrator realizes that the times and people are changing, the Rat feels like he's being left behind by his peers and alienated from society in general, and the nine-fingered girl is struggling to make a living for herself and dealing with the death of her father, her distant family, an abortion, and possible mental illness.
  • Alcohol Hic: The DJ of The Greatest Hits Request Show, who calls the narrator right after opening some beer.
  • The Bartender: J, who runs the aptly-named J's Bar and tries to steer the kids in the right direction.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Rat eventually becomes a writer. The unnamed narrator eventually gets married and moves to Tokyo, but never saw the nine-fingered girl again, and realizes that the summers of his youth are long gone. Given that this is only the first of four novels, readers of A Wild Sheep Chase and Dance Dance Dance know things are far from over.
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  • Bookworm: The narrator. The Rat as well, despite the narrator's claim to the contrary.
  • Broken Bird: The nine-fingered girl, who despite her bluster and attitude is extremely lonely, coping with a broken family, had an abortion, and might have a mental illness.
  • Call-Forward: An unintentional one for English-speaking fans, most of whom are getting to read this for the first time in 2015. The Rat is the narrator's best friend, is rich, loathes being so, and feels alienated from society. Gotanda in Dance Dance Dance is quite similar, if much darker.
  • Character Development: The narrator claims that the Rat "is a virtual stranger to books." However, the Rat is seen reading a few times after; he's seen with an unnamed Henry James novel, Kazantzakis's The Last Temptation of Christ, and eventually wrote a novel with characters that modeled themselves based on The Brothers Karamazov. Whether this is all the result of the Rat's curiosity towards novels, or an attempt to connect with the narrator in ways beyond drinking is left ambiguous.
    • The narrator spends very little time talking about his previous three girlfriends, demonstrating how little effort and attention he put into his relationships. He ends up caring more about the nine-fingered girl and looks for her the next time he comes back to town, only to find she's long gone.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: The narrator finds the nine-fingered girl passed out at the bar, takes her home, stays with her all night, and doesn't take advantage of her. This doesn't stop him from checking out her nude body or measuring her height with his hands.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: For the narrator and the Rat, who realize their current summer of binge-drinking will likely be their last.
  • Driven to Suicide: Derek Hartfield and the narrator's third girlfriend.
  • Dysfunctional Family: The girl with nine fingers. Her mother and sister are distant, her father is dead, and she hears voices.
  • Growing Up Sucks: A major theme of the novel.
  • Idle Rich: The Rat, who spends nearly every scene he's in either drinking, eating, or reading. Granted, we can only see things from perspective of the narrator, who mostly sees the Rat as his drinking buddy.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: The Rat, especially once summer starts winding down.
  • Reality Ensues: The narrator and the Rat became friends after they went drunk driving and ended up crashing into a park. They woke up feeling full of life and energy...and spent the next three years paying city hall - with interest - for the property damage.
    • The narrator's attempts to find his former high school classmate after she requests a song for him on the radio. He tries looking up the school registry, calling former classmates, and even posing as a survey taker, but fails miserably. It demonstrates the novel's themes of the changing times and losing touch with the past.
    • Going out and getting wasted with your friends every night isn't as fun as you grow older. Also, people will have less time and tolerance for it, so you'd better be able to connect with your friends in other ways.
  • Show Within a Show: Derek Hartfield's various novels and science fiction series, most prominently The Martian Wells. Also, The Greatest Hits Request Show on NEB Radio.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: How the Rat's father got rich. He got a small chemical factory just before World War II, and produced what he claimed to be an insect-repelling cream. After the war, he started making a health tonic. Towards the end of the Korean War, he started making household cleaners. All of the ingredients are rumored to be the same. Regardless, his product is now a prominent drain cleaner.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted; as a child, the narrator was so quiet that his parents took him to see a psychiatrist. He didn't start speaking like a regular person until he was 14.
  • Tokyo University: The narrator is studying biology in Tokyo, but returns home for his summer break.
  • Tragic Keepsake: The California Girls record, the photo of his third girlfriend who committed suicide, and the cud he took from the cow's stomach while studying biology.
  • Verbal Tic: "To be blunt" is one of the Rat's signature phrases.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: How the narrator and the nine-fingered girl meet. He found her passed out in bar's washroom, then took her home. He planned to leave at 4, fell asleep, woke up, and decided to hang around to let her know what happened.
  • You Are What You Hate: The Rat despises the rich, but comes from a wealthy family.


I wish they could all be
California girls...

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