A Wild Sheep Chase is the eighth book by Haruki Murakami (1949) that I have now read. Obviously I like and admire his work a lot. It is the third book in what is called The Rat Trilogy which begins with Pinball which was followed by Hear the Wind Sing (both of which are sadly out of print-there is chatter they are coming back in print soon-they can be found on Amazon.com at times). Dance, Dance, Dance which came out in 1988 is sort of a continuation of the plot lines of the Rat Trilogy.
I really enjoyed this book. It is just flat out a lot of fun. It was recently the subject of discussion and review by several readers on a read along hosted by In the Spring it is The Dawn. The posters there covered some of the deeper themes of the book so I will just talk briefly about the book.
The book is kind of a take off of the detective story complete with a visit from a sinister stranger who sends our unnamed central character on a quest for a mysterious wild sheep. Along the way he meets and has a romance with a prostitute with beautiful ears. We also learn a lot about the history of sheep in Japan which I found very interesting. Our hero meets a number of strange and interesting characters.
There are hints at an evocation of Japanese animism in the use of the sheep imagery but Murakami does not take it too seriously and neither should we. There are references to untoward human-sheep encounters so we know it is OK just to enjoy the book without a great deal of thought as to the symbolic meaning of the sheep. There are many references to American cultural icons.
I liked A Wild Sheep Chase a really lot as do almost all who post on it. If you are just getting into the Japanese novel or looking for a first work to read by Murakami I would suggest either After Dark or Norwegian Wood.
A link to some of my other Japanese reviews can be found here