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A Wild Sheep Chase

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Translator  Alfred Birnbaum
Language  Japanese
Published in English  December 31, 1989
Author  Haruki Murakami
Followed by  Dance Dance Dance
Genre  Magic realism
3.9/5 Goodreads

Country  Japan
Publication date  October 15, 1982
Originally published  October 1982
Preceded by  Pinball, 1973
Publisher  Kodansha
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Original title  Hitsuji o meguru bōken 羊をめぐる冒険
Similar  Works by Haruki Murakami, Trilogy of the Rat books, Novels

A wild sheep chase by haruki murakami book review

A Wild Sheep Chase (羊をめぐる冒険, Hitsuji o meguru bōken) (literally An Adventure Surrounding Sheep) 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).

Book review discussion a wild sheep chase by haruki murakami

Plot summary

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, 'The 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 that 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 those who have encountered the sheep before.


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 the novel as "Youthful, slangy, political and allegorical", 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."

Prequels and sequel

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 that Dance Dance Dance can be seen as separate from the "Trilogy of the Rat."


  • 1982 Noma Literary Newcomer's Prize
  • Book information

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

  • Hardcover – ISBN 0-87011-905-2, published in October, 1989 by Kodansha International
  • Paperback – ISBN 0-452-26516-9, published on November 1, 1990 by Plume Fiction
  • Paperback – ISBN 0-375-71894-X, published in 2002 by Vintage International
  • References

    A Wild Sheep Chase Wikipedia

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