This article shows how Murakami Haruki's novel The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1994–95) constructs a historical narrative to overcome the victim/perpetrator dichotomy and demands ethical response from readers. Drawing on Marianne Hirsch's term postmemory, the author analyzes the novel as a postmemory generation's struggle over the question of how postmemory generations of a former perpetrator country would be able to ethically respond to a temporally distanced, shameful, and traumatic past. Murakami's postmemory protagonist archives scattered pieces of the wartime and postwar pasts narrated by directly traumatized others and constructs a historical narrative to critically overcome the victim/perpetrator dichotomy that regulates the discourse surrounding wartime Japan's violent history. By having his nonviolent protagonist assume a violent aspect and turn into a perpetrator, the author argues, Murakami demands an ethical response from contemporary readers, that is, not simply understanding historical violence as a past to be criticized but imagining it as “our” own, ongoing problem.

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